What Is Appalachian Culture

What is Appalachian Culture?

Written by Michael Maloney A style of life and thought that arose in the 1700s when the Scotch Irish and other British Isles and German people arrived in the valleys and ridge land of Virginia and North Carolina to live alongside Native Americans, according to Gene Wilhelm’s notion of Appalachian culture. As a result, we were referred to as “Indianized white people.” Although this is a bit of an exaggeration, we did learn a great deal from the Indians, including what crops to plant in our fields.

Some went on to live in the Ozarks, East Texas, Southern Illinois and Indiana, and even villages along the coast of Washington State, while others stayed in the Midwest.

There are many academics who believe there is no such thing as culture, let alone Appalachian culture (see Obermiller and Maloney article:).


  • Many of us rely on convenience meals like “pop and potato chips” to get through the day.
  • Mexican restaurants and pizza parlors may be found in abundance across Appalachian and urban Appalachian communities.
  • When the Maloney family gets together, large pots of pinto beans are always on hand.
  • Is it a matter of our values?
  • Is it a combination of familism, patriotism, and religion?
  • On the bad side, there is a list that includes individualism, familialism, and violence, and it reads like a list of diseases.
  • There is also a positive list, which includes a love of the country, strong family ties, religion, and a strong sense of justice, among other qualities.

So, what is Appalachian culture all about, exactly?

The bad stories about aggressive men who beat their wives and slatternly women who use drugs, neglect their children, and rely on government assistance are common.

The negative images of huge families with terrible teeth living in hillside shacks with no desire and little awareness of the outside world are prevalent in popular culture.

(My sisters were recruited by missionaries and sent to boarding schools in the local area before being sent to finishing schools beyond the mountains to become good young women.) – The Waltons exemplify good stereotypes in every way.

In the 1960s and 1970s, we began to write our own stories about our battles to live a better life, which we shared with others.

Women working in the mines have been the subject of several stories.

In Cincinnati, we presented stories about our lives in the mountains, as well as about our hardships and triumphs in the metropolis of Cincinnati.

We were up against police violence.

We were successful in having the Human Rights Ordinance of Cincinnati adopted.

Our stories tell of how we took care of our families and aided one another in our Appalachian communities.

It may be discovered through honestly examining the stories of our families and our people as a whole, as well as the things that bring us together and the things that bring us together.

We contributed to the development of Cincinnati and its neighboring communities.

We designed and built the automobiles, trucks, and refrigerators.

We were a group of attorneys, physicians, and nurses.

We make up one-fourth of the population of Greater Cincinnati. However, there are still families who have not been able to benefit from this achievement and who require the assistance of our community. It will reveal a great deal about our “culture” based on how we respond to their demands.

Appalachian Culture

A number of times, the Appalachian mountaineers have been discovered and then forgotten. During the American Civil War, they gained national notice for the first time. Thousands of people straggled out of the mountains in search of food and shelter as their rudimentary agriculture was interrupted by foragers and the constant guerilla fighting of the guerrillas. After their suffering was brought to the notice of President Abraham Lincoln, who pledged that after the war a solution would be found to assist the poor mountain people who had been neglected and forgotten by the rest of the world for far too long President Abraham Lincoln was slain and Appalachia was mostly forgotten when the war ended.

  • The mountains contribute to the distinctiveness of Appalachia as well.
  • They were able to establish a separate culture.
  • They live in close proximity to nature and have a strong conviction in the existence of God.
  • Besides having a strong sense of what is right and what ought to be, Appalachians are also extremely moral.
  • They are resistant to change.
  • With each new chapter that is written, the fight is still ongoing.
  • Despite the fact that tremendous money has been produced in Appalachia, the mountaineers’ portion of this income has been kept to a bare minimum.

Appalachia has been linked with poverty and illiteracy, and it is home to some of the poorest counties in the United States of America.

It is customary to provide traditional meals like as greens, potatoes, and beans, along with cornbread and biscuits.

The continual attempts by “outlanders” to modify this culture are a testament to the resolve and strength that this civilization has maintained throughout the centuries.

Two of the most distinguishing traits of Appalachian culture are the shown independence and the ongoing mutual assistance extended to people in the region.

Appalachia is divided into four main people groups based on their cultural heritage.

One population group is made up of descendants of the initial pioneers who arrived in the region during the westward march, while another is made up of indigenous people.

The features of this group include that they are self-sufficient, independent, hardworking, stable, and have strong relationships to their extended families.

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In today’s society, the ordinary worker has little education, few skills, a large family, limited wealth, and few options for a career.

The third type of group is the group of professionals.

In general, members of this group are not well-liked by the people of the Appalachians.

They are people who grew up in the mountains, went elsewhere for career opportunities, and are now returning to the Appalachian mountain region to live.

The Appalachians expect people to respect their right to self-determination.

The warm greetings and helpful hands extended to newcomers by the vast majority of Appalachians will leave a lasting impression on even the shortest of visitors.

Mountain people, as a group, are resistive to change, hesitant to embrace outsiders, and extremely wary of authority, among other characteristics.

The civilizations are self-sufficient and self-sufficient in its own right.

When it comes to providing business help, there are several roadblocks in this culture.

Some prominent aspects of our Appalachian culture have survived to this day.

Many components have been lost as a result of urban influences, changing times, or just the reality that people are embarrassed or ashamed of themselves.

Many young people are attempting to abandon established ways of thinking and beliefs in order to embrace new ways of thinking.

Early settlers from these locations are supposed to have spoken a mixture of Scottish-flavored Elizabethan English, which is likely to have influenced the development of this dialect.

Appalachian people are portrayed in films such as Deliverance, television series such as The Beverly Hillbillies, and comic strips such asLittle Abner as forlorn but proud, desperate yet hardworking, heroic first generation frontier folk, however they are also portrayed as uneducated and depraved.

  • In fact, the term “Appalachian” comes from an ancient Indian word with a literal definition: “endless mountain range.” The Appalachian Mountains, according to the Indians, extended on for ever and ever and ever and ever.
  • Despite this, they are united by a sense of shared pride, shared beliefs, and a shared ancestry.
  • After extracting the resources from this region and enjoying many years of wealth, many of these enterprises have relocated, leaving the landscape wounded but beautiful, exploited yet undeveloped, as a result of their success.
  • The Appalachian region is defined by the federal government today as including portions of West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, among other states.
  • However, while religion is essential in Appalachia, the fact is that more than 65 percent of the region is not affiliated with a religious organization.
  • Mountain people believe in the Bible, respect the Church of God, and welcome anyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but the organized aspects of religion have not been significant factors in their lives, according to the people of Appalachia.

Yesterday’s People: Life in Contemporary Appalachiaby Jack E. Weller, published by The University Press of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., is a good resource to read in preparation for and during service in Appalachia. Most bookstores carry the book, and you can order it from them.

About the Appalachian Region

Located between southern New York and northern Mississippi, Appalachia is made up of 423 counties spread across 13 states and spanning 206,000 square miles. The 26 million people who live in the Region are spread throughout sections of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as the whole state of West Virginia, among other states.

Appalachia Then and Now

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Corporation (ARC) has made about 28,000 targeted investments and spent more than $4.5 billion in the Region since 1965, which has been matched by more than $10 billion in other federal, state, and local funding sources. While substantial progress has been achieved in important economic indicators like as poverty, per capita income, and high school graduation rates, Appalachia continues to trail behind the rest of the country on a national scale. For the Region to fully recover from economic disruptions, address the drug addiction epidemic, and attract new investment in the coming years, more effort will be required.

The Chartbook

An overview of data from the 2015-2019 American Community Survey, often known as “The Chartbook,” is provided for the Appalachian region. It is based on the most recent American Community Survey data as well as similar Census Population Estimates. There are over 300,000 data points in the study, including demographics, income, and employment in Appalachia, along with other topics such as educational attainment, computer access, housing, and more—all of which are given at regional, subregional, state, and county levels.

Appalachian States

The Appalachian Region is comprised of 13 states ranging from southern New York to northern Mississippi in geographical location. Access each individual’s contact information, research, statistics, and other resources.

Appalachian Counties Served by ARC

From southern New York to northern Mississippi, the ARC’s footprint encompasses 423 counties in 13 states, extending from southern New York to northern Mississippi. See the complete list of counties in the Appalachian region.

Economic Distress in Appalachian Counties

Every year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Corporation (ARC) uses an index-based approach to classify each county in the country according to its level of economic hardship. Local economic development status designations play an important part in ARC grant award decisions and provide insight into the evolution of local economies over time.

The Lies We’re Told About Appalachia

In order to classify each county in the country according to its level of economic hardship, ARC uses an index-based approach that is used every year by the organization. Local economic development status designations play an important part in ARC grant award decisions and provide information on the evolution of local economies over time.

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Ivy Brashearis the Appalachian Transition Director at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

What/Where/Who is Appalachia?

Appalachia is a geographical location. It is shown on maps, even when rival mapmakers differ on where the limits of the territory should be. Although not consistent in nature across the region, it is also a culture, even if that culture is not uniform in form. For years, the greatest gifted authors in America have recognized the significance of place in the human psyche and have written about it. Consider the setting of Faulkner’s work in the Midwest, or the setting of Steinbeck’s work in New England.

  1. When it comes to telling a good narrative, setting is everything.
  2. Place may be defined in terms of geography as well as landscape.
  3. One rapidly finds, however, that there is no clear, fast, and universal description of Appalachia while attempting to describe it.
  4. However, according to President Trump’s wishes, the Commission will be disbanded over the next few months if he continues to hold office.
  5. Of course, in order to work toward that goal, the Commission will have to define what it means to be from Appalachia.
  6. In the graphic above, courtesy of the ARC, you can get a short peek of the strange outcome that may occur when politicians seek to define a territory.
  7. If one were to ask what any of the 420 counties in white has in common with every one of the other 419 counties, one would conclude that membership in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s definition of Appalachia is the only thing that they have in common with one another.

Muscle Shoals, Alabama is officially located in the Appalachian Mountains.

It doesn’t include that little sliver of middle Tennessee or a portion of bourbon country in central Kentucky, both of which appear to be random appendages to the rest of the state and lack mountains.

Even though the Appalachian Regional Commission’s map includes areas that are categorically not part of Appalachia, the region as defined by the Commission does include a substantial portion of territory that is unquestionably part of Appalachia.

As a result of this problem, we are forced to investigate alternative methods of characterizing Appalachia.

Appalachian culture is often associated with either the aristocratic mountaineer or the less noble white-trash hillbilly, depending on who you ask.

Many Americans, even those who are unable to locate the region on a map, are convinced that hillbillies marry their siblings, live in shacks, shoot all of their food, produce clandestine whiskey, and are illiterate in many aspects of society.

It becomes evident, once you get past the obnoxious preconceptions, that there is no singular, monolithic Appalachian culture to be found.

The majority of Appalachian citizens may trace their genealogy back to Scots-Irish settlers, although this isn’t the true in every county in the region.

For example, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians may be found in Jackson County, which is where we currently reside.

Many families in our town have persons of all three races as ancestors, and this is true for many generations.

Popular culture has also long claimed that Appalachia, particularly the center and southern regions of the area, is a part of mainstream southern culture, which has been debunked.

In spite of the fact that there are portions of Appalachia that are both southern and in the South, not all Appalachians are or have historically been staunch supporters of the Confederacy.

The rebel flags that adorn porches and pickup trucks across Appalachia are mostly recent additions to a region that has a long history of such displays.

As a result, Americans have seldom seen a stereotype that they did not identify with, and the outcome is another another erroneous way of defining Appalachia.

In reality, the historical record does not support the claim that Appalachia is a geographically isolated region.

For more than a century, coal from central Appalachia has provided energy to the whole world.

Despite the fact that mountain people have long been connected to the outside world, they have chosen to limit the amount of effect that the outside world has on their culture.

As a result, in many of the most poor areas in the region, it has become necessary to rely on others (both neighbors and government support).

After all, what really constitutes true Appalachian culture?

What are your thoughts?

Every semester, I tell my students that my objective is for them to leave my class knowing less about history than they did when they first walked in.

To be honest, many Americans, particularly in 2017 and beyond, are not interested in complicated storytelling.

As a result, Appalachia is often oversimplified in explanations.

At the very least, Appalachia is defined by extreme poverty.

After visiting some of the region’s poorest areas, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed a “unconditional war on poverty” in 1965, designating Appalachia as “Ground Zero” in the fight against extreme poverty.

Considering that Johnson was a rather outspoken racist, it’s worth questioning his motivations for searching for virtuous white people to rescue during a time when the United States was waging a national campaign for civil rights for African Americans.

The United States has never fully compensated the people of the region for all that they have sacrificed for the benefit of increased wealth in other parts of the world, which is regrettable.

Affluent enclaves dot the landscape, and the region’s natural resources have been used to produce enormous amounts of money, even if that prosperity has not remained in the region for long periods of time.

It is nonetheless true that Appalachia is a region in economic hardship, even if poverty is not uniformly distributed throughout the area and even if certain portions of the region have prospered economically.

The process of examining the reasons that so much of Appalachia remains impoverished is not the same as simply describing the extent of the poverty.

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We must first identify Appalachia, or at the very least establish that there is no common description of the region, before we can get too deeply into the issue of causality.

However, just as Appalachia is not a particularly homogeneous region, neither are all Appalachians homogeneous individuals.

We struggle for social justice and campaign for the abolition of poverty not only because our religion compels us to do so, but also because we care profoundly about the people who live around us.

After signing the “Appalachia Bill,” which founded the ARC, Johnson declared: “This law heralds the end of an age of party hostility toward human need and misery in the Appalachian region.” We now know that political cynicism has back with a fury, presuming that it ever truly left the scene in the first place.

When we condemn someone’s character rather than working to understand the causes of their pain, we are acting selfishly and with hatred against them.

It is my goal that we can all, red and blue, right and left, rely on our shared history of devotion to the community as we continue to work toward resolving the critical issues that confront our area.

We can, and should, combine our personal ties to this wonderful place with our scholarly and justice-oriented efforts to better understand and improve the world in which we find ourselves.

That is why I have chosen to combine photographs of my woodturning and our chickens with my own analyses of the social problems I observe in my immediate environment to create this exhibition. I hope you’ll all join me on this journey to learn more about Appalachia as we go forward together.

Where Is Appalachia?


Have You Ever Wondered.

  • Where exactly is Appalachia? What states are considered to be part of Appalachia
  • What is the size of Appalachia

Do you enjoy traveling throughout the United States and seeing different parts of the country? Did you know that you may learn a great deal about different cultures and countries without ever leaving your house or school? Yes, this is correct! Today, Wonderopolis will transport you to the Appalachian Mountains in virtual reality! So, where exactly is Appalachia located? Eastern United States is a geological and cultural region with a history dating back thousands of years. Affectionately known as “the Appalachian Mountains” because they assist to define the region, Appalachia runs from southern New York to the northern regions of states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

  1. Appropriately named Appalachia, the region encompasses approximately 205,000 square miles of land.
  2. Georgia.
  3. Maryland.
  4. New York State.
  5. Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  6. In the past, Appalachia’s economy was primarily reliant on mining, forestry, agriculture, and heavy industry, and as many as one-third of its population were considered to be living below the poverty line.
  7. Overall poverty has decreased as a consequence, but there are still significant disparities between communities that have diversified and those that have not.

In popular culture, the Appalachian people are generally depicted as primitive, illiterate “mountain men” who are prone to feuding and bloodshed.

Appalachian culture, on the other hand, is well-known for its literature and music.

After being introduced to the banjo by African-American blues performers in the late 1700s, the instrument has emerged as a key emblem of the music of the region.

Folklore is another important aspect of Appalachian culture that is widely known.

Appalachia has been a popular tourist destination in recent years.

Most people are familiar with the Appalachian National Scenic Path, a hiking trail that runs between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine and is perhaps the most well-known destination in this region.

The Appalachian Trail, which is commonly referred to as the Appalachian Trail, is about 2,200 miles long and is a component of the Triple Crown of long distance trekking in the United States.

Wonder What’s Next?

An in-depth examination into a renowned smile will be the subject of tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day.

Try It Out

Are you eager to learn more about the Appalachian Mountain region? Check out the following activities with a friend or family member to make the most of your time:

  • Do you enjoy the sounds of the Appalachian Mountains? What about it piques your interest? Which instruments appear to be significantly featured in the film? Consider attending an Appalachian music-themed party. Do you think it would be enjoyable? What is the reason for this or why is it not? Check watch fold musicians and storyteller David Holt’s TED presentation to learn more about this style of music: Fold Music and Storytelling. Mountain Music Has a Long and Happy Tradition online
  • Do you have what it takes to be a cartographer? That’s a snazzy term for someone who creates maps. Check out this Appalachian Regionmap, which depicts all of the counties that make up the Appalachian region on the internet. Copy the map and have a buddy quiz you on some fundamental facts about the geography of Appalachia
  • If you want to discover more about the Appalachian states and all they have to offer, you should visit the website Visit Appalachiaonline. To find out more, look into the following areas on the internet: Places to Visit+Appalachian Region+Driving Tours+Appalachian Mountains You may take on this challenge by creating a brochure that urges your friends and family members to visit Appalachia. What places should they make sure they don’t miss? What can people expect to see on the big screen? What if you could come up with a Top 10 List of Things to Do in Appalachia
  • What would you include?

Wonder Contributors

Please accept our sincere gratitude to Ellen from North Carolina for her contributions to today’s Wonder theme! Continue to WONDER with us! What exactly are you puzzling over?

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