Appalachia CultureThis Essay Appalachia Culture and other 61,000+ term papers, college essay examples and free essays are available now on ReviewEssays.com
Autor: reviewessays • November 30, 2010 • Essay • 1,506 Words (7 Pages) • 599 Views
Many people have different views on what Appalachia is, I grew up thinking that Appalachia meant people were dirty, poor, illiterate, inbreed and we also called them mountain people. As I grew up I realized that most of the things they went through and had a hard time with, I was dealing with the same problems. So what exactly is Appalachia? Well you will find out as you read on.
Appalachia is no longer the land of severe poverty that it was three decades ago, now the poverty rate of one in 15 is close to the national average. The number of adults who have received a high school diploma has also jumped from one out of three to two out of three; and the infant death rate has been cut in half. Comparing the 391 counties in the Appalachian Regional Commission with counties outside the region that were similar to Appalachian counties in the 1960s, researchers found that Appalachian counties grew significantly faster than their counterparts. Specifically, overall income in Appalachia grew 48 percent faster; per capita income grew 17 percent faster; and population grew five percent faster.
The Appalachian mountaineers have been discovered and forgotten many times. Their primitive agriculture disrupted by foragers and incessant guerrilla warfare, thousands of them straggled out of the mountains in search of food and shelter. Their plight was brought to the attention of President Lincoln, who promised that after the war a way would be found to aid the poor mountain people whom the world had bypassed and forgotten for so long. The war ended, President Lincoln was assassinated, and so therefore Appalachia was forgotten. Appalachian people are considered a separate culture, made up of many unique backgrounds - Native Americans, Irish, English and Scotch, and then a third immigration of Germans and Poles - all blended together across the region. The mountains also figure into the uniqueness of Appalachia. The mountains kept Appalachia isolated from the rest of the country and from other people's involvement in their lives that they developed a distinctive culture. (arministry.org)
The life in the wilderness and the continuing isolation of Appalachian people has made us different from most other Americans. The Appalachian value system that influences attitudes and behavior is different from the norm, and similar to the value system of an earlier America. Some of our more important values are religion; family solidarity; individualism, self reliance and pride; love of place; modesty and being oneself; sense of beauty; sense of humor; neighborliness; and patriotism. (civicnet.org)
Coal became the fuel that fired the furnaces of the nation, transforming the Appalachian region socially and economically. Unfortunately mountain people didn't realize the implications of their mineral wealth. Many sold their land and mineral rights for pennies an acre to outlanders. Appalachians became laborers rather than entrepreneurs. Coal became a major industry which was extremely sensitive to outside fluctuations in the economy, leading to boom and bust cycles. The industry was controlled by interests outside the region, so that little of the profit remained or was reinvested.
Appalachia is often portrayed as an arrested frontier, a geographically isolated subculture, and reservoir of culturally homogenous. Appalachians are pictured as proud, fiercely independent, and god-fearing southerners. But in all reality they are portrayed as fighting and feuding, barefooted and backward, ignorant degenerates, downtrodden by centuries of isolation, inbreeding, and poverty. So how was Appalachia discovered? Well Appalachia was prompted in the mid 1870s by local color writers such as Mary Murfee and John Fox Jr. who explored in fiction and travel sketches such mountain themes as conflicting Civil War loyalties, moon shining, and feuding. (Billings)
Appalachia's people have been alternately ignored and rescued by government, private, and public social institutions since the early part of this century. The coal miners, for instance, were fertile recruiting ground for the early union organizers. Later LBJ's War on Poverty swooped down on the area with all the conviction and conscience a bureaucrat can muster. For the most part, the people of Appalachia have suffered and acknowledged all this with quiet bemusement. The best Appalachian humor deals with outsiders and their attempts to save us. (Wilburn)
Appalachia was later defined as a social problem area deserving of uplift by church home missions and private philanthropy by William G. Frost and John C. Campbell. They were educators and social reformers who's depiction of Appalachia aw a distinct cultural entity was subsequently reinforced by social scientists seeking to identify and catalog Appalachian sub cultural traits. (Billings.) Appalachia is also called the southern mountain region as traditionally defined comprises some 112,000 square miles in the hill and valley sections of Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Maryland. (Shapiro)
About 23 million people live in the 410 counties of the Appalachian Region; 42 percent of the Region's population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population. The Region's economic fortunes were based in the past mostly on extraction of natural resources and manufacturing. The modern economy of the Region is gradually diversifying, with a heavier emphasis on services and widespread development of tourism, especially in more remote areas where there is no other viable industry. Coal remains an important resource, but it is not a major provider of jobs. (Appalachian Region webct)
Appalachian population in 1910 was estimated to be 5.3 million and since 1962, Appalachia has been redefined as