Meet People Creating the Diverse American Culture

Updated on January 25, 2023 by Meg

Diverse American Culture

What is American culture? The United States is a big place, and culture can vary from state to state. For now, we break it down geographically into four main regions--and look forward to continually expanding our coverage!

Here’s our bird’s-eye view of some of the locales that have particularly compelling traditions that are uniquely their own. Check out our big picture summary of U.S. regions and peruse our ever-growing collection of in-depth articles and interviews that explore the multi-faceted American culture.

New England Culture

New England, in the northeastern corner of the U.S., is made up of six states, the first of which was settled in 1620 by refugees from England seeking religious freedom. The region in many ways physically resembles the part of the world for which it was named, with its quaint fishing villages and stretches of wilderness. But New England has a character all its own, which is multi-faceted and often contradictory; among some common traits are ingenuity, self-sufficiency, individualism and a strong sense of community. These attributes are reflected in its landmarks, traditions and people, from Motif # 1 in Rockport, MA, the most-photographed building in the U.S.; to the summer Illumination Night festival in Oak Bluffs, on Martha's Vineyard, MA, with its tiny Victorian gingerbread houses and roots in religious revival meetings; the autumn beauty of the cranberry bogs in southeastern MA as they ripen for harvest; and the lifestyles of lobstermen and artists who live side-by-side in Deer Isle, Maine.

Culture in America Maine Restaurant

Maine Restaurant Chef Devin Finigan on Culinary Philosophy

Maine restaurant Chef Devin Finigan dishes on her culinary philosophy and Deer Isle’s creative community of fishermen, farmers and artisans.

Culture in America Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine Museum Curator Brings Maine History to Life

Our interview with the curator of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport Maine reveals the enthralling life of maritime Maine historically and today.

Culture in America Rockports Heart and Soul

Motif Number 1: Rockport’s Heart and Soul

Here’s the story behind Motif Number 1, America’s most-painted building, a red shack located at the end of Bradley Wharf in Rockport.

Meet a Maine Lobsterman, a Conversation with Captain Julie Eaton

Meet a Maine Lobsterman, a Conversation with Captain Julie Eaton

Lobster fishing in Maine is the state’s favorite maritime hobby. Learn from Julie Eaton, a lobster boat captain from Deer Isle.

Cranberry Bogs Massachusetts

Cranberry Bogs in Massachusetts Yield A Colorful and Delicious Tradition!

Cranberry bogs in Massachusetts are beautiful to behold in the fall, and the zesty fruit has a fascinating history. Read on to learn more!

Recycled Art Visionary Shares Story of Deer Isle Sculpture Park

Maine Sculptor Peter Beerits on the Power of Ideas & Transformation

Deer Isle, Maine sculptor Peter Beerits embodies the power of art as a catalyst to be true to ourselves, transform the past.

Clark Art Institute Transforms Troubled Kids with Art

Clark Art Institute Transforms Troubled Kids with Art

The Clark Art Institute offers a program for troubled youth that presents studying art as an alternative to punishment.

Southern Culture

On the southern coast of the U.S., the city of New Orleans straddles the Mississippi River 100 miles from its mouth. Founded by the French in 1718 as a trading port, in the 1760s France ceded Nawlins to Spain, who owned it for 40 years, trading heavily with Cuba and Mexico, and adopting the Spanish racial rules that allowed for a class of free people of color. After being re-sold to the French in 1803, New Orleans then became a part of the U.S. twenty years later as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

The city's cultural legacy can be experienced today in its rich musical offerings of blues, jazz, gospel, Cajun and Zydeco. The long-standing Mardi Gras Carnival dates to the very beginning of the city's history and its founder French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. The Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, located in the New Orleans Treme neighborhood, preserves and celebrates the history and the authentic indigenous culture of all individuals who masquerade as Mardi Gras Indians. The origins of the Mardi Gras Indians are murky, but many trace it to when escaped slaves found asylum with Louisiana tribes.

Virginia is one of the northern-most southern states, and was one of the first thirteen colonies founded by the British in the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the founding fathers of American democracy, Thomas Jefferson, made his home at Monticello plantation. This 5,000 acre homestead is a window into how American culture was shaped by the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Home to both the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia has 22 national parks and 41 state parks that encompass more than 500 miles of trails and a lot of history. Shenandoah National Park is just 90-minutes from Washington, D.C. and it is not only a spectacular patch of pristine wilderness, but a place that bears witness to significant passages in the social history of American culture, including the displacement of "hillbillies" racial segregation, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government work relief program during the Great Depression.

American Culture Mardi Gras Indian

Mardi Gras Indian Culture of New Orleans | With Cherice Harrison Nelson

Mardi Gras Indian culture & traditions are revealed by Cherice Harrison-Nelson, co-founder of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, New Orleans.

American Culture Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans a Fertile Ground for Life Lessons

Take a tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District with local Sarah, who offers a primer on unique New Orleans’ traditions.

American Culture Irma Thomas

Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans, Shares Wisdom

In this intimate and revealing interview, Irma Thomas, known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, shares meaningful experiences & life lessons.

American Culture Monticello Plantation Garden Preserves Jefferson's Retreat

Monticello Plantation, a Relaxing Retreat at Thomas Jefferson’s “Temple”

Monticello Plantation was Thomas Jefferson’s botanical sanctuary. Learn about the charms and history of this UNESCO site in Virginia.

American Culture Skyline Drive in Virginia, a Trip Through Scenery and Cultural Heritage

Skyline Drive in Virginia, a Trip Through History and Blue Ridge Mountains

Thinking of a trip on gorgeous Skyline Drive in Virginia? Learn the history of this national treasure from a local ranger!

Southwest Culture

Santa Fe, the capital of the state of New Mexico in the southwest, was founded in 1610 by Spanish colonists who were creating a "New Spain"; it had previously been occupied for several thousand years by the Tanoan indigenous people. New Mexico became a part of the U.S. in 1848 with a peace treaty that ended the Mexican-American War. In the early 20th century, Santa Fe began to attract archaeologists, artists and other creatives; in 2005, it was designated as a UNESCO Creative City in Design, Crafts and Folk Art. Santa Fe has a particularly vibrant fiber arts tradition, which can be accessed from "sheep to shawl" by a trail that connects visitors with alpaca ranchers, herbal dye-producers, community spinning mills, artisan studios and weaving co-ops.

Folk Artisans

Folk Artisans from Around the World Celebrated at Annual Santa Fe Market

Folk artisans from around the world share their culture at the annual International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. Go behind the scenes with this inside look!

Valles Caldera

Valles Caldera in New Mexico, a National Preserve and Place of Intrigue

Valles Caldera in New Mexico is a beautiful national preserve and place of intrigue. Writer Tom Ribes shares its history and seasons.

Oklahomas Native Americans

Traditions of Oklahoma’s Native American Culture: An Interview with Curator Dr. Dan Swan

Native American culture is rich with symbolism & mysticism. Dr. Daniel Swan has spent four decades immersed in Oklahoma’s Native American Culture.

New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail

New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail

The Fiber Arts Trail is a gathering of New Mexico’s rural cultural tourism advocates, & is home to Victory Ranch - known for its 300 Alpacas.

West Coast Culture

The American West is the largest region of the U.S., covering nearly half of its contiguous land area. This section of the country is typically thought of as two distinct areas: the Pacific states that run on the coast (AlaskaOregonWashington, California, as well as Hawaii), and the Mountain states (MontanaWyomingColoradoNew MexicoIdahoUtahArizona, and Nevada).

As elsewhere in the U.S., much of the American culture that has developed in the West is inextricably linked to the landscapes, climates and ecosystems. For now, PAC features content about culture creators in the state of California and looks for continually expanding coverage!

California is home to the first national park in the U.S. (Yellowstone, founded in 1872), and the state has more than 200 parks in total. Some of those include nine national and 109 state parks; 20 national forests and six state forests; five state and three national historic sites; and 31 national wildlife refuges. Our Q & A with Bonnie Gisell, Curator of LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park, gives a fascinating look at the influence of naturalist John Muir, one of the world's pioneering conservationists.

California also holds a special place in American culture as a haven for the bohemian, avant garde, and counter-culturists. Leonard Knight is a legendary outside art figure who made his mark on the desert landscape outside Palm Springs, and on the hearts of all those who visit his epic creation, Salvation Mountain.

Yosemite Valley

Q & A with Bonnie J Gisel, Curator of LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park

Are you a nature lover? Then you’ll find a kindred spirit in Bonnie Gisel, curator of the LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park.

Salvation Mountain Creator Leonard Knight Shares His Story

Salvation Mountain, Leonard Knight’s Monumental Labor of Love

Welcome to Salvation Mountain, where we met Leonard Knight, a Vermont native who moved to California to spread his love of Jesus through art.

Strictly speaking, culture in America covers two entire continents and make up most of what is considered the Western Hemisphere. On this page, we offer a summary of People Are Culture's content about the United States; we have separate pages for Culture in Canada, the Culture in Mexico and parts of Central and South America.