Watching the sun set from Clingman’s Dome (highest point in Tennessee) was a highlight of our trip for me. The splendor of the Appalachian Mountains can not be truly experienced through pictures. Only by seeing it in person can one truly appreciate what our region has to offer.
Women of These Hills - 3 Cultures of Appalachia - 2000
This short documentary allows three women of different Appalachian cultures (of Cherokee, Scots-Irish, and African-American descent) to tell their stories of life in the mountains before and after the age of tourism.
Please do not fetishize Appalachia or its people. The last thing we need is more people thinking Appalachians need saving like abandoned animals. Appalachia needs opportunity to help itself. The drug abuse is an expression of hopelessness, government thought thought setting up a welfare state in a mountainous backwater was the simplest solution for a wasted piece of flyover country. We need to prevent people from magnifying this destructive idea. Do not talk about us in the third person.
You haven’t been around long, have you?
Hi. I am a substance abuse social worker in Appalachia. Welcome to this several year old blog through which I, as an Appalachian from eastern Kentucky for all of my life, have spent years encouraging people to never do what you have accused me of doing. But I want to take this opportunity to talk about advocacy for Appalachians, something not well understood when it comes to the drug problem.
Denying our problems and what needs work is helpful to no one. Appalachia (in the we/us sense, btw–never third person), is a highly impoverished region. This is due to both internal and external factors which have been discussed often here. The substance abuse is highly linked to poverty. It’s also largely due to the pharmaceutical industry overprescribing in Appalachian states. We have more pain pill prescriptions per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
The drug problem is not an “expression of hopelessness.” It is the result of cyclic poverty, unemployment, and being medically underserved. The destructive train of thought is that Appalachians do not need intervention services, or outside resources. There is a difference between outsiders coming in and using our stereotypes to justify our poverty, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse working with Appalachians to come in and research the drug problem to figure out where to fund treatment centers. Do not mix up funding and charity. Every region in the US needs federal and state funding for substance abuse services. We have consistently received less, and changing that is progress that benefits Appalachia.
One last thing – I hate to break it to you, but most of the country is a welfare state. Welfare, despite its reputation, is the difference between the majority of Appalachians toeing the poverty line and falling into extreme poverty. Without being allotted a certain budget federally, and without advocating for proper allocation of these resources, we cannot fully address the substance abuse problem. I am an Appalachian to my core. Appreciating my home and fighting against its struggles are no fetishization. How are Appalachians to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when many don’t have bootstraps?
The problem is both internal and external, therefore it takes both internal and external measures to address it.
Unrelated, but I have to say: though we may disagree about how to address Appalachian issues, I 100% respect that you care enough to bring it up and discuss it.