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Appalachia Culture Essay

1503 words - 6 pages

     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....

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