Web site: www.wnpt.net/appalachians
The vast Appalachia region stretches across 13 states and is home to more than 23 million people, yet it may be the least understood culture in America. Appalachia has existed for generations as a region apart, isolated physically and culturally by its rugged mountains. The ethnically diverse Appalachian people - including many of the country's first immigrants - played a profound, and often overlooked, part in the nation's history and cultural and economic development. THE APPALACHIANS, introduced by country music star Naomi Judd, is a comprehensive historical and cultural overview of this distinctive region. This three-part series documents the unique legacy, courage, character, arts and culture of the central and southern Appalachian people. The film includes the work of outstanding Appalachian historians and scholars, writers, poets and musicians, including Ricky Skaggs, Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Alison Kraus and traditional folk artists from the region.
When the first European settlers arrive in the Allegheny, Cumberland, and Blue Ridge mountains in the 17th century, they trade and intermarry with the Shawnee, Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee who have lived there for centuries. But by the mid-18th century, the swelling pioneer population leads to decades of combat on the Appalachian frontier that eventually forces the natives out. As the Scotch-Irish and other immigrants settle in, the isolation of the mountains helps preserve the cultural traditions they have brought with them. The men of Appalachia fight bravely in the American Revolution, but then rail at taxes and regulations imposed by the new American government. Evangelical revivals sweep the region in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and traditional music mingles with the rhythms used by African slaves to form a glorious new gospel music.
- KETKY Wednesday, January 1 at 2:00 pm EST
In the 1830s, the growing nation sets its sights on land still owned by Indians, and President Andrew Jackson orders the removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma. Slavery and other social and economic differences widen the gap between the North and South, and the Appalachian region is caught in between, with many families divided between the Union and the Confederacy. The violence and chaos leave scars on mountain life for years to come. After the Civil War, railroads are built, forests are cut, and outside owners buy up the land. A conflict between two timbering families, the Hatfields and the McCoys, becomes a legendary "blood feud," and outsiders create the damaging stereotype of a stupid, violent hillbilly. Timbering and coal mining bring jobs, but the workers find their lives controlled by the companies. The United Mine Workers' union organizing attempts are resisted by the owners, often with violence, and resentments explode in a series of devastating strikes known as the "great coal wars."
- KETKY Wednesday, January 1 at 3:00 pm EST
As the 20th century begins, the phonograph and the radio expose the mountain people to new influences and take mountain music across America. But times are hard, and Appalachia falls into an economic depression even before the rest of the country. President Roosevelt's New Deal brings electricity, WPA and CCC jobs, and new infrastructure, and FDR becomes a hero in Appalachia. Then World War II begins taking many young people away from the mountains, and postwar mechanization replaces coal miners and sends more people to Northern cities in search of jobs. For those who try to stay home, it becomes harder to hold onto land as state and federal governments claim property for dams and family farmsteads are flooded. The 1960s War on Poverty again sends federal aid into Appalachia, but television and magazines show painful images of hunger and poverty, reinforcing the stereotype of the poor hillbilly.
- KETKY Wednesday, January 1 at 4:00 pm EST
Official web site: www.wnpt.net/appalachians
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