In the central mountain range ofAppalachia hundreds of children wakeup every day facing the possibilitythat they will not have enough food toeat, clothing to wear, medicine tokeep them healthy and blankets tokeep them warm. Almost 50% percentof the population lives in extremepoverty, and the area now fronts 37 ofthe poorest 100 counties in the UnitedStates. Poverty and a persistentinstinct towards survival at all odds isa prominent aspect of Appalachianculture. It was a prominent aspect ofthe populous Scots Irish heritage. It isperhaps what endeared these AngloSaxon immigrants to the runawayslaves they found prominent in thearea during their early eighteenthcentury migrations to the area.
The close-knit families that live here are among the proudest of all Americas
These lofty mountains, born of the emerging Atlantic Ocean seafloor buckling, as the African tectonic plate slammed up against theNorth American plate hundreds of millions of years ago, are part of atrans-hemispheric chain that finds itself “from Norway to theScottish highlands, across Ireland and Newfoundland extending tothe Atlas Mountains of North Africa.” (Furstenberg 2008)
It is no wonder that Appalachia is a patchwork ofcultural influences that make up the region. From theIroquois, Shawnee, and populous Cherokeecommunities that were displaced by the large Scots-Irish warrior class that ultimately subdued the natives,
to the large communities of free blacks who found in Appalachianeither a plantation nor a region of the south that was enthusiasticin their support of the Confederate cause.
The persistent stereotype of an ignorant in-bread community of“hillbillies” popularized by movies like Deliverance (1971), and TVshows like the Beverly Hillbillies (CBS 1962-1971) are demeaningxenophobic representations of the worst kind. They betray the prolifictapestry of a community whose rich cultural heritage rivals that of theNew Orleans in its influence upon American culture.
In the middle of the 19th Century,Appalachia became a boom town forcoal mining companies and the railroad industry. There were noplantations in Appalachia and slavelabor was negligible or nonexistentprior to the Civil War. Many Blackswere themselves or the sons anddaughters of runaway slaves whosettled in this remote area whichappeared to have only a passingconcern for the goings on between theblue and the grey. Many Black menworked building the railroads. Howeverit is only until recent times that thetrue influence of Black culture onBluegrass and Appalachian music hasbeen explicated.
As an isolated enclave and somecontend a colony even,Appalachia became a center ofthe moonshining industry duringprohibition. It was notuncommon during the last halfof the 20th Century for it tobecome a large center formarijuana harvesting. Today ithas been plagued to a largeextent by methamphetamine.Yet, from mining to moonshineto methamphetamine, nothinghas seemed dampen the pride ofthese people of the hills.
Little did I know that my own landlord who lives but a fewyards from my apartment is from the coal mining mountains ofTennessee? She was raised in Ivey Dell just 42 miles east ofKnoxville. Barbra Jean left she says at the age of 16 with $2.00and 3 pieces of chicken in her pocket.Today I understand where her stellular pride and uncommondecency come from.She gave me the following recipe for Blueberry wine that waspast down through her family.
In some mountain families making"Blackberry Wine" was a tradition.The wine was usually served only forspecial occasions.Gather six to eight gallons of wild black-berries wash them and put them in a bigcontainer.Mix in five pounds of sugar and cover thecontainer with a cloth, fastened securelyso that bugs cant get in but the mixturecan still breathe. Let sit for eight to tendays. Then strain the mixture through aclean cloth, squeezing the pulp so that all the juice is removed.Measure how many gallons you have. For every gallon of juice, add one and ahalf pounds of sugar. Let it work off. When it stops (bubbling has stopped ontop), strain it again and measure the juice, adding another one and a halfpounds of sugar to each gallon. When it finishes working this second time,bottle it.
Furstenberg, François. "The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History." American Historical Review 113.3 (2008): 647-77. Web.The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History." American Historical Review 113.3 (2008): 647-77. Web.Keefe, Susan E. "Theorizing Modernity in Appalachia." Journal of Appalachian Studies 14.1 (2008): 160-73. Web.MASSEY, CARISSA. "Appalachian Stereotypes: Cultural History, Gender, and Sexual Rhetoric." Journal of Appalachian Studies 13.1 (2007): 124- 36. Web.
Olson, Ted. "Future of Appalachian Studies: A Roundtable." Journal of Appalachian Studies 17.1 (2011): 188-213. Web.Pruett, David B. "3. United States (Continental): United States of America: REGIONS AND STATES: The Appalachian Region." 4 Vol. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd / Books, 2005. 107-110. Web.TAYLOR, STEVEN. "Racial Polarization in the 2008 U. S. Presidential Election." Western Journal of Black Studies 35.2 (2011): 118-27. Web.WILKERSON, JESSICA. "Mountain Feminist." Southern Cultures 17.3 (2011): 48-65. Web.