A U.S. Geographic Survey expeditionary force announced yesterday that it has discovered an unexplored and heretofore unknown land region between the New York and California coasts.

"We shall call this land 'the Midwest,'" said Dirk Zachary, New York City native and leader of the 200-man exploratory team. "And its primitive inhabitants shall be known as 'Midwesterners.'"

Zachary and his men discovered the region while searching for the fabled Midwest Passage, the mythical overland route passing through the uncharted areas between Ithaca, NY, and Bakersfield, CA.

"I long suspected something was there," Zachary said. "I had flown between the city and L.A. on business several times. The duration of my flights seemed to indicate that some sort of a large area was being traversed, an area of unknown composition."

When asked if he had ever looked down from the airplane window during his flights, Zachary said, "Why, no."

The U.S. Geographic Survey's expedition left the East Coast three weeks ago to mixed hurrahs and jeers. Not long after crossing the Adirondack Mountains, Zachary and his team were blazing trails through strange new regions, wild lands full of corn and wheat.

"Thus far we have discovered the places known as Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin," said Thomas Higgins, chief navigator for the expedition. "When translated from the local dialect into human speech, these words seem to mean 'Summer camp.'"

Zachary and the others were surprised to learn that the Midwest, long believed to be incapable of supporting human life, was indeed populated, albeit sparsely.

"The Midwestern Aborigines are ruddy, generally heavy-set folk, clad in plain non-designer costumery," Zachary said. "And though coarse and unattractive, these simple people were rather friendly, offering us plain native fare such as 'Hotdish' and 'Casserole.'" Despite the natives' friendly demeanor, Zachary's men quickly slaughtered all Midwestern tribesmen they encountered, "just to be safe."

Though the Midwest is still largely unexplored, early reports depict a region as backwards as it is vast.

"Many of the basics of a civilized culture appear to be entirely absent," said Gina Strauch, a Los Angeles-based anthropologist. "They have yet to discover the film industry, and their knowledge of restaurants is sketchy at best. Their agri-centric lives seem to prevent them from exploring the high-fashion sciences to any degree. Further, many of their children earn money at actual 'jobs,' rather than spending their parents' money or living off a trust fund."

Despite the cultural differences, some say relations with the Midwest are possible.

"Believe it or not, this region may have things to offer us," said James Ogleby, a San Francisco marketing expert. "We could build an airport there, a place where passengers could switch planes on their way across the country. We could send touring Broadway productions there to stage revivals. We could even someday conduct trade with the Midwesterners, offering them electronics in exchange for cattle."

Despite the excitement over the discovery, Zachary is maintaining perspective. "These people are not at all like us," he said. "They are crude and provincial, bewildered by our cities and our culture, our books and our coffee shops. For a New Yorker to attempt to interact with one as he would with, say, a Bostonian is ludicrous. It appears unlikely that we will ever be able to conduct a genuine exchange of ideas with them about anything, save perhaps television or college football."