I'm an archaeology doctoral student at UC Berkeley. I'm currently researching Blair Mountain in WV, the site of the largest labor conflict in US history. In 1920-1921, West Virginia mining families resisted an oppressive social, political, and economic system, and began a struggle to gain basic human and labor rights. This important site is currently slated for mountaintop removal coal mining, and with its destruction an important part of people's history in the US will be lost. The mountain is a historic symbol of resistance, and it is currently being reinterpreted and reasserted in the fight to stop mountaintop removal. My project is centered on the site of the battle itself, as well as the surrounding area where tent colonies were set up to house the striking miners who had been thrown out of their company-owned houses. I am looking at reconstructing their daily lives - the experience of what a mining family's everyday existence was like during a prolonged and bitter labor strike. As this project develops, I will tie the historical events to the contemporary struggle for environmental, economic, and social justice in West Virginia. Rather than the traditional view of West Virginians being passive victims of exploitation and domination from outside interests, this project will hopefully bring out an often overlooked but extremely important part of our past - that we have long been active agents in our history and that we still very much possess the power to resist injustice and the ability to shape our own course.
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