Ethnic identity is neither a sole image of distinction nor a unique creation of particular groupings. It is generally a way of life – the transfusion of culture from the society to the individual, the exaggeration of values, beliefs, and worldviews. There is no simple word to define this concept. It is clearly built on a myriad of principles which can only be understood through various sociological mediums. Some of the well-known principles correlated with ethnic identity are as follows: cultural assimilation, race, subculture, and conflict.
In this paper, the author will examine the cultural heritage of the Appalachee Indians, with the book ‘Foxfire 2’ as the main source. Much of the discussion in this paper will focus on the cultural values and practices of the Appalachee Indians, and the building of their cultural identity. The Appalachee Indians live in the southeastern United States – in the Appalachian mountain range. The area between the south easternmost tip of Canada and Alabama stretches about 1500 kilometers.
Prior to European colonization of the area during the 18th century, the Appalachee Indians enjoyed considerable power in the Indian League of Nations. They were also regarded as one of the most senior tribes in the League – some of the tribe members claimed descent from the rain god during the Great Tumult. Notably, the temples served as avenues for specialized jobs of manufacture. Women were expected to be able to grind grain, bake bread, make wine, and prepare other food during spring and summer.
In the book, it was argued that the history of Appalachian women is synonymous with the history of manufactured goods in the area. Men were expected to herd animals, trade with other tribes, plant crops, build houses, gather wood and other provisions for the survival of the tribe, and protect the tribe from external threats. However, one is forced to argue that when spinning and weaving is emphasized, women became the work stations. In many ancient and Renaissance societies, women were expected to satisfy the needs of the house.
For example, women of noble origin in Medieval Europe were expected to fulfill two essential needs: the needs of the household and the satisfaction of the husband. Weaving and spinning became a momentary pastime of women. Among the Appalachee Indians, women significantly contribute to the prosperity of the tribe by making spinning and weaving their full profession. Two interesting facts are evident in the book. First, it is clear that the delegation or more accurately the unconscious social assignment of roles to women was based on the function of weaving and spinning in the survival of the tribe.
Much of the manufactures produced were exchanged to goods which are scarce in the Appalachian area. And second, it seemed that from the birth of the Appalachian tribe, women were placed with an almost equal rank with men. The reason is quite obvious. If women were given essential role in society, then their value as social category (or group) is emphasized. This defined the cultural identity of women before the intrusion of Western values in the 18th century.
With the coming of the Europeans, and more specifically, the founding of the American nation, slowly but never totally displaced this emphasis. The work of women was relegated to the factories and manufacturing centers erupting in the southeastern United States. The Appalachian identity, however, remained intact. Reference Foxfire 2. 1973. Beekeeping, Spring Wild Plant Foods, Ox Yokes, Wagons and Wheels, Tub (power water) Wheel, Foot-Powered Lathe, “From Raising Sheep to Weaving Cloth. ”
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