- Appalachia lies along the Appalachian Mountains, which extend from Mississippi to New York, and includes three sub regions.
- The region was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The name Appalachia comes from the Appalachee tribe of Northern Florida.
- The geographical region known as Appalachia is named after the mountain chain which serves as a barrier from the outside world.
- The isolation that the mountains bring has preserved many traditions.
- The Appalachian Region consists of 198,931 square miles, 13 states, 406 counties, 22,216,361 people and is 42 % rural.
- During the colonial era, Appalachia was claimed by Europeans in search of independence
- Much of the Civil War was fought in Appalachia.
Geography and Economy
- Geography makes farming and industry difficult
- Local economy cannot support the population for most of Appalachia.
- Despite the natural beauty of the region, tourism fails to generate enough profit to offset negative economic trends.
- The regions traditional economy is based on agriculture, extractive industries (coal mining), and blue-color manufacturing jobs
Appalachian Sub regions
- Northern, Central , and Southern
- Extends from New York into West Virginia and Ohio
- Economic based in steel, coal, and railroad transportation
- Reduction in employment has occurred in this region.
- Includes sixty contiguous counties in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee
- History of the most grinding poverty in America
- Where War on Poverty Started and Failed.
- Third World conditions
- Entitlement mentality
- Extends from Virginia through the Carolinas and into Alabama
- Includes many unique regional folklore traditions (Foxfire Series)
Significant influences to the Appalachian Culture
- Labor Unions
- Decline of the major industries (steel, chemical)
- Labor Unions
- Decline of the Coal and timber industry
- Tennessee Valley Authority
- Anti Labor Union
- Textile Industry
- 7-8 million people migrated from Appalachia between 1940-1990
- Most have moved toward industrial centers, auto assembly factories in Michigan and Ohio, textile Mills in the South or high tech jobs anywhere in the USA
- Military Influence- joined and remained
- “Brain drain”
- Since 1980 Appalachian migration has decreased
Appalachian Culture Travels
- Appalachian people have experienced a series of disasters and exploitations
- The move to the city comes with the discovery that they have exchanged rural poverty and unemployment for urban poverty and unemployment
- Move to the city has resulted in Appalachian-urban neighborhoods
Traditional Appalachian Identity
- Regional Folklore shared with younger generations
- Arts and crafts highlights the regions beauty
- No other large geographic region in the United States has so many family members who live their lives in proximity to their birthplaces.
- Extended Kinship networks
- Children learn from parents and clan
- Family Surname can identify persons and link them to a kinship network
Values of Traditional Appalachian Families
- When an Appalachian moves from rural to city, they do not leave their values “back home”.
- Their values do not mesh well with urban living
- Traditional values include a present orientation with fatalistic views of the future, action vs. dialogue, and fierce protection of self and kin
Industrialization and the Great Depression
- In the 19th and early 20th centuries, industrialization largely bypassed the region
- People there relied primarily on subsistence farming and hunting
- Industrialization did lead to the growth of cities such as Pittsburgh and Birmingham
- In the 1930’s. during the Great Depression, the federal government began to notice the economic deficiencies of the region
1960’s: War on Poverty
- Attitudes toward poverty was simplistic: if a region is destitute, give it goods, services and infrastructures
- JFK initiated War on Poverty in 1963
- LBJ implemented the Program
War on Poverty
- The Community Action Program sent volunteers into the region
- The Federal Government poured money into the region
- Social Programs such as Welfare relief, public works projects and subsidies to industries were implemented.
Poverty Wins the War
- Rather than investing in education, businesses, and other income-generating concerns, federal aid was used to finance more consumption and more children
- Welfare and state aid become dominant source of income
- Despite efforts the region lacked entrepreneurship and education
Getting Passed By:
- During the industrial revolution, the advancements passed the Appalachian region by
- Now, with the information age, the lack of education has prevented the development of technology-related industries and jobs in the region
- Many Schools often lack basic supplies
- Because much of the population is poor, Appalachian states have lower tax revenues
- This results in less funding for schools and substandard education
- Key Feature: autonomous, regionalized, sub-denominations of Christian religions
- Regional churches tend not to be involved with centralized religions
- They often follow a literal interpretation of the Bible
- The King James Version is still the translation of choice for the majority
- Denominations or “brands” of religion are for the most part irrelevant
- Most churches place a great importance on religious experience, especially in relation to conversion
- Life is extremely hard- the sense of independence carries over into their religious experience (works, emotional, spirit led)
- Strong folk tradition
- Churches are very influential: no explicit lyrics
- Country/bluegrass influence
- Prevalence of white country gospel music
- Square dancing is a common form of entertainment
- It is important to understand the background of the people and places you will work with and visit.
- Characteristics: What is culture? The patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share.
- Culture distinguishes one human group from others.
- A people’s culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.
- Appalachia is not a “melting pot” so much as it is a stew: Irish, Scottish, Germans, Native Americans, Italians, English, Polish, Hungarians, Orientals, Asian Indians, Hispanic, African Americans, Other Europeans, Jewish, Arabs
- “They came in with a horse, a cow, a sack of corn, an iron pot and a wife and several children, an ax and a long rifle.”(Norman Simpkins)
- “and a King James Bible.” (Unknown)
Diversity between the Regions
- North and South
- Wealth and Extreme Poverty
- Major Universities and Illiteracy
- Major cities and dying towns
- Low unemployment and high unemployment
Characteristics of the Appalachian People
- The inhabits of this area are traditionally very independent
- Many have survived in the mountains for generations by subsistence farming
- Family is very important to them
- Love the home place
- Most are culturally religious
- Live on the land
- Barter economy
- “toot” work pattern (work hard, rest a spell)
- Easy going
- Person oriented- see other people as whole individuals
- Proud people
- Polite people
- Suspicious of “foreigners” (strangers)
- Staring is impolite
- Equality of women
- Independent (love to “fight it out”.)
- More relational than goal oriented
- Love good humor
- “I can talk about where I’m from, but you can’t”
Comparison of Rural American with Appalachia
- Emphasis on community, church, clubs, etc
- Oriented to progress
- Home tasks shared by husband and wife
- Shared family activities
- Acceptance of the world
- Cooperation with doctors, hospitals, and outsiders
- Use of government and law to achieve goals
- Denominational churches do well
- Individualism, self-centered concerns
- Oriented to existence
- Separateness of husband and wife in home tasks
- Few shared family activities
- Suspicious and fear of the outside world
- Fear of doctors, those in authority, the well-educated
- Antagonism toward government and law
- Suspicious of denomination and organized religion
Four traits of Appalachian Americans
- Fundamentalism in religion
- Fatalism-accepting life here as is and looking for a better hereafter (John Campbell, Loyal Jones and other modern scholars)
5 key groups of people living in Appalachia
Native Appalachians (Williams)
- Town and city dwellers- urban
- Valley farmers-rural
- Branch water Mountaineers
- Those who return after a few years
- Those who return “after being gone too long.”
- Those who return to the “home place” after retirement.
- Schooling or learning can drive a mountaineer from their culture and run the risk of making such a student unfit to return to the life he or she came from. (John Campbell, A History of Appalachia Berea College).
Ethnic People Groups
Modernized areas: In Appalachia, a flavor of the culture, but not much different from the rest of America (Knoxville, TN, Greenville, SC, Pittsburgh, Pa).
Emerging Areas– Hazard, Ky, Clarksburg, WV
Unaltered areas- coalfields
Relocated pockets– Cleveland, Ohio
“Television and the internet have not leveled the mountains in many of the rural and remote communities.”
Migration to the Cities “ Hillbilly Ghettos”
- Causes of out migration
- High birth rates
- Unsustainable farming practices
- Destruction of land
- Concentration of land ownership
- Fluctuations in the coal market
- Anti-unionism and poor working conditions
- Removal for National forests, national Parks, lakes
- Economic pull of employment elsewhere
- The migration begins in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- Between 1900 and 1930 many Appalachians become migrant farm laborers.
- Appalachians tended to move to the inner city
- Akron Ohio gets nicknamed “The Capitol of West Virginia” today its Charlotte, Nc.
- Post WWI anti-immigration laws cause industrial labor recruiters to look to Appalachia as a source of workers
- A pattern of moving north/south when jobs where available and back to the mountains when layoffs occurred was established early .
- Between 1940 and 1960- seven to eight million left the region and three million moved to the region.
- They were part of the mass migration of southern sharecroppers (Black and white), Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans seeking a better life.
- Many fully assimilated into their new environment.
- Others became “bi-cultural” , returning home for visits, but blending in with their northern or mid-western neighbors.
- Others became identified as a social problem.
- This group became known among social workers, educators, police, and other professionals as SAMS (southern Appalachian migrants), WASPS (white Appalachian southern protestants or SANS (southern Appalachian newcomers.)
- On the streets and schoolyards, it would be briar, briarhopper, cracker, hillbilly, redneck, ridge runner, snake eater