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I believe the best way to do this would be to create a calculated field as you've described or to add the data to the data source itself.
If you end up going the tedious route, I'd suggest a CASE statement rather than a bunch of IFs. E.g.,
WHEN "CA" THEN "Region 1"
WHEN "MN" THEN "Region 2"
More readable and the WHENs can probably be created quickly in Excel.