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A live weekly radio adventure through Indiana history with host Nelson Price.

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December 03, 2022

Evolution of foreign-born Hoosiers and the International Center: 50 years

Lugar with SinghIn the early 1970s, the top homeland countries for foreign-born Hoosiers were Germany, Poland and Canada. Fifty years later, the top countries of origin are Mexico, India and China. Those rankings come courtesy of the International Center, a nonprofit that offers programs and services related to Indiana's international communities. The center began in the early 1970s as primarily a volunteer-run organization serving only Indianapolis. Now, with a staff of more than 20 and a statewide focus, it's about to turn 50 years old.

Responding to the milestone, Hoosier History Live will explore the evolution of Indiana's foreign-born population as well as of the International Center itself, with Martin Baier, its president and CEO, joining Nelson as his studio guest. A native of Germany and a veteran of the German Air Force, Martin also currently serves as the honorary counsel of France to Indiana.

For part of the show, Martin and Nelson also will be joined by Caterina Cregor Blitzer, who was the International Center's president from 1996 through 2006. A native of Italy and a freelance translator and editor fluent in multiple languages, Caterina led the center through a period of growth as Indiana became increasingly diverse.

According to the center, the foreign-born population of Indiana has increased by a whopping 328 percent since 1970. (The state's overall population has increased by 29 percent during that period.)

International Leaders

As the change in the top homeland countries indicates, significantly greater numbers of foreign-born Hoosiers are people of color. Rather than coming primarily from European countries like Germany and Poland, many now come from Asia and Africa.

The International Center's analysis indicates that, after Mexico, India and China, the top homelands of foreign-born Hoosiers in 2020 were Burma, the Philippines, Nigeria and El Salvador. In contrast, the top homelands in 1970, after Germany, Poland and Canada, were Yugoslavia, England and Mexico.

Using data from the 2020 Census, the International Center reports that, in 1970, 80 percent of foreign-born Hoosiers were white. In contrast, 63 percent in 2020 were non-white.

International Center 1972

Our guest Caterina Cregor Blizter notes that the idea for the International Center was conceived after then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar and civic leaders reacted to the need for interpreters and translators in 1971. That's when the Hoosier capital hosted the International Conference on Cities attended by 500 delegates from around the world.

One of the key founders of the International Center was well-known artist and architect K.P. Singh, who was Nelson's guest in 2010 for one of the early shows in our rotating series about ethnic heritage and immigration to Indiana. K.P. shared insights about Sikh heritage in Indiana. Our popular series has explored heritage groups ranging from Korean immigration to Indiana to, most recently, Ukrainian immigration and Arabs in Indianapolis, then and now.

As the International Center prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it has announced various projects. In December of 1972, the Indianapolis Star predicted that after the center opened, the city would have a "window on the world". The center was officially established in March 1973 and initially known as the International Center of Indianapolis.

Nelson featured speaker at St. Margaret’s Guild holiday luncheon

Failey HouseThis year the St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild has selected the Failey House in Meridian Kessler in Indianapolis to be the featured historic home on its spring Decorators’ Show House and Gardens tour. The home was owned by the Failey family for 84 years and was designed Willard C. Osler. Touring the historic house will help St. Margaret’s Guild with its goal of raising $1 million dollars for Eskenazi Health’s Behavioral Health Academy.

Hoosier History Live host and historian Nelson Price, also the author of “Indiana Legends”, will be the featured speaker at the St. Margaret’s Guild holiday luncheon on Dec. 9 at the Woodstock Club. Nelson will be speaking about historic women from Indiana, as well as about contemporary notables he has interviewed.


Roadtrip: Tour boats of northern Indiana

Guest Roadtripper and attorney Tim Shelly of Elkhart, and former board chair of Indiana Landmarks, tells us that "Northern Indiana is peppered with dozens of recreational lakes and crisscrossed by several navigable rivers. If one owns waterfront property or their own boat, these bodies of water provide hours of enjoyment to those lucky persons. If you don't own lakefront property or a boat, you are still able to experience being on the water by cruising on one of four large public tour boats sailing in northern Indiana: The Dixie, Indiana's oldest stern wheeler, docks on Webster Lake in North Webster, the Elkhart River Queen plies the Upper St. Joseph River in its namesake community, Monticello's Madam Carroll voyages Lake Freeman, and the S.S. Lillypad II, explores Lake Wawasee in Syracuse. Each member of this fleet provides those landlocked with the chance to experience a special day on the water.

The DixieThese boats offer public cruises on a regular basis, some daily or weekly, from mid-spring until later fall. All boats offer special voyages, such as dinner, sunset, concert and party themed tours and all boats are also available to charter for special occasions; such as weddings and family or school reunions. Uniquely, the Madam Carroll provides year round dockside entertainment in its lounge. 

Additionally, these vessels annually host patriotic themed events on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and then, a veteran's recognition cruise in the fall. The red, white and blue celebrations include an entourage of flag decked private boats, large ensembles playing Taps, and special displays and salutes from waterfront property owners.

All four of these historic boats, from the century old Dixie to the 30 year old Lillypad II, provide the public a chance to get out and enjoy the water, whether it's to glimpse and smell the colors of spring tree blossoms, escape the heat of July and August, to take in the changing fall foliage, or simply to enjoy the different activities and views from the water. A few hours spent on any of these boats is time well spent." Listen to Tim this Saturday on the radio or on your favorite streaming device!

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