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The Slice: 2011: Fall of the ‘Inland Empire?’

Mon., Jan. 3, 2011

A note from a reader got me wondering.

Will this be the year that “Inland Northwest” finally and conclusively routs “Inland Empire” in everyday usage?

The trend has been under way for at least 20 years. And the subject has been discussed many times in this column.

But I just have a feeling that 2011 is going to be the year when “Inland Empire” nears extinction.

Now making that declaration guarantees that I will hear from staunch defenders, Inland Imperialists if you will, of the old regional label.

That’s fine. I have always found loyalty to that particular local tradition appealing. That name is, after all, part of our history.

And other than the fact it’s a bit bombastic and sounds like the brainchild of someone trying to sell undeveloped land, there’s nothing wrong with “Empire.”

Who cares if there is a more populous, more recognized Inland Empire east of Los Angeles?

Still, it can’t be denied that “Northwest” conjures mostly positive connotations all across the country. The word has a certain cachet.

Reminding people that we are part of that broader region seems like a good idea. Plus, “Northwest” does have the advantage of offering a bit of geographic information.

Face it. An Empire could be almost anywhere some fast-talking promoter sets up shop and starts waving his arms.

Maybe there are a few more chapters to be written before we conclude the rise and fall of “Inland Empire.” But I have a hunch 2011 is going to see the forces of “Northwest” marching toward final victory.

Of course, when it comes to contention over place names, you don’t have to look far to find another.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “North Idaho.”

The idea of carving out a separatist identity and linguistically keeping the southern part of the state at arm’s length goes way back. But does it still make sense to think of the Panhandle as no more connected to Boiseworld than, say, West Virginia is to Virginia?

Perhaps there are those who fear that using the less defiant “northern Idaho” would make people too comfortable with the slippery-slope idea that North Idaho is part of Idaho.

Um, OK. Let’s move on.

Today’s Slice question: Has the S-R’s weekly shopper ever gotten jammed in your snowblower?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Cindy Garvin will be missed.

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