Melungeon identity is one of the intriguing, unsolved mysteries of Appalachia. The term has been in use since the early 19th century. In general it has referred to dark-skinned, mixed race families of the central and southern Appalachians. Until recently, Melungeon was a derogatory name used by outsiders. In early census records, they were frequently described as “free people of color” and were subjected to social and legal discrimination. The dominant scholarly view is that their ancestries are combinations of Native American, African and European. Members of the group have claimed 16th century Portuguese origins for themselves. Since the 1990s, the Melungeon Heritage Association has won international recognition for their group and are redefining the term as a positive, respected identity referring to a mixed-heritage people of the southern mountains.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Affrilachians Creative Commons Image Obtained Through Flickr
The term Affrilachian, coined in the early 1990s by Kentucky poet Frank X Walker, has claimed a place in our understanding of the […]
- William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas, born in Haywood Country in 1805, was befriended and adopted by the Cherokee leader, Yonaguska. Thomas’s close ties to the Cherokee promoted his success as a […]
- Outdoor Recreation In the fall of 2006, students in PRM 433, Outdoor Recreation, researched recreational opportunities in western North Carolina. They were asked to explore an aspect of outdoor recreation in […]
- Cratis Williams Cratis Williams gained international fame for documenting and interpreting Appalachian culture and language. Born in eastern Kentucky in1911, he spent most of his professional life as a […]
- Personal Names People receive their names according to a number of social conventions. Often those conventions reflect regional differences. . .