An Appalachian Flag

 
The flag features an Appalachian Star. The fourteen stripes represent the thirteen states within the original Appalachian Homeland, plus the Appalachian Diaspora. It's said there are 14 waystations on the path to the Kingdom.
 
The Star is travelling uphill. Appalachian people are used to walking uphill. This coming century will be an uphill walk.
 
The star and colors are from the Tamarack cultural heritage initiative. So much work went into making a symbol for the Best of West Virginia. I remember reading in the newspaper, as a teen growing up in Mercer County, how the Tamarack design team researched Appalachian folk styles, and synthesized those to make the design. And since WV is the only state which is entirely within Appalachia, we feel it is a fitting symbol for the wider Appalachian Culture.
 
Some might object* that Tamarack is not a purely cultural intiative, and so wouldn't be worthy of serving on a flag for Appalachian culture. My response is: it's not like the Tamarack Star is a logo of a private business or commercial shopping mall. Though the Tamarack Center was built and funded by the Government of West Virginia, and has the economic element of craft sales, it is intended to primarily be a cultural center. The Tamarack Star is a cultural symbol, and it is a symbol which was commissioned and approved by the People of West Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia.
 
*(For instance, there's an incisive but fun critique of the design at the Flag Hagz blog: "Appalachia in a nutshell".)
 
I'm not a professional graphic designer who could make an entirely new, intricate design from scratch. I'm open to someone doing that, and I'd be glad to contribute to that effort. In the meantime, I feel the 'Tamarack Star' flag is a step in the direction of a fitting Appalachian cultural flag.
 
Regardless of its origin, isn't the Tamarack Star a beautiful rendition of the Appalachian Star? It has both angularity and roundness and incorporates four colors. The star has a warm heart.
 
(I recently got in touch with Flag Hagz, and there was a tender-hearted response: 'We love all flags deep down even when we're criticizing, and the Tamarack Star IS a beautiful symbol.')
 
Flag construction:
The flag has the same 10:19 dimensions as the U.S. flag. It's no secret that the Appalachian Culture was birthed from the American experience.
The stripes are the same width as the U.S. flag stripes.
The Appalachian Star is the same size as the top-to-bottom edge of the rectangle of American Stars on the U.S. flag.
The Appalachian Star is placed equadistantly from the three edges.
 
The mystery of Purple and Green:
Green is the color of the mountains up close. Purple is their color from a distance.
There may be more to these colors than meets the eye. In the words of the poet:
"...When we find the two separate principles producing green on the one hand and red [purple] in their intenser state, we can hardly refrain from thinking in the first case on the earthly, in the last on the heavenly, generation of the Elohim."
—Goethe, On Color Lore
 
Some might say: 'What does a German poet have to do with Appalachia?' I say: Appalachia has as much a right to Goethe as anyone else. There's even a quote by Goethe above the door of the Dairy Mart in Athens, West Virginia.
 
Red and Orange:
Red is the tenderness and strength in Appalachian hearts. Golden orange is our wealth in talents, and the potential for individual sovereignty as free-breathing men and women.
 
My first Appalachian flag:
The first Appalachian flag I made had only 13 stripes...and they were flat.
 
 
I had this one printed in cloth. This flag was first flown on top of Pinnacle Rock, near Bramwell, West Virginia in July 2012. Then we took it to Kanawha State Forest, where I got to show the flag to some miner friends. Hopefully we'll meet again in even friendlier circumstances. After that, I planted it in the West Virginia state capitol lawn to express solidarity with the R.A.M.P.S. strip-mine resistance effort. The flag flew all night in the Panther Mountain camp as a question mark: how long before our Appalachian mountain-huggers and our Appalachian miner-families will meet in the Kingdom?
 
 
Copper tubing from the hardware store makes for a beautiful and inexpensive flagpole.
 
From flat to wavy to sloped:
I shared the design in a Washington Post reader's forum, and I received a comment:
 
"That's excellent, but the [Appalachian flag] should have mountains"
                                                                                                        —comment by reader 'ggregg228', November 12, 2013, in response to Reid Wilson's article: "Which of the 11 American Nations do you live in?",
 
I thought: 'You know, he's right. Why does an Appalachian flag have flat stripes?' For a land where the "road maps resembled a barrel of worms with St. Vitus Dance" (in the words of Breece D'J Pancake), why are the stripes flat like the American stripes?
 
So I experimented with making the stripes wavy or zig zag. But they were kinda jarring to look at.
 
Then in December 2013, I went back and reconsidered the merits of the existing Appalachian flag designs which have been offered by others. I looked for the gold nugget in each design:

Other Appalachian flags:
Two Appalachian flag designs by Tennessee Jed: (Sources: Redneckomancer, David Way Hampton blog, and Flags of the World)
 
The 'Appalachian Glory' flag is based on the Appalachian Region Commission logo and colors.
 
I'd call this a 'Southern Appalachian flag'.
 
The Confederate Battle Flag is also an Appalachian flag. The Young Patriots, a group of Appalachian anti-racist revolutionaries and allies of the Black Panthers, who were based in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s, wore Confederate flag patches. The Southern and Appalachian identities were not yet clearly distinguished.
 
A variant design by Appalachian Greens. (source)
 
An Appalachian flag by Secundino Fernandez: (source)
 
This one has made it into cloth as well.
 
From flat to sloped:
The thing I noticed is that all four of those designs have a slope to them. Not a wave or zig-zig, but a slope. So I sloped the 13 stripes.
 
UPDATE: December 11, 2013
I just heard back from Junior Walk, an activist from the Coal River Valley in West Virginia. We met on the capitol lawn once. When I showed him my flag there, he mentioned that he had a flag too—an Appalachian Anarchist flag. But I didn't see it before we left. Today he shared an image of that flag:
 
Huh! It has a slope too.

Update:
New for 2016! Appalachian flag by Grayson and Gaby Hicks. I like it.
Available through their Appalachian Flag Co. (Photo © Appalachian Flag Company 2016)
 
13 Stripes to 14 Stripes:
As I was re-evaluating the other Appalachian flags, I also noticed that Tennessee Jed's designs have 14 stars, with one star representing the many Appalachian people who have left the Hills for places such as Cincinnati*, Detroit, and Chicago. I like the idea of representing the Diaspora. And adding another stripe makes the mountain side more substantial. In my experience of Appalachia, the nestling mountainsides are experienced more than the sky.
 
*(Cincinnati is perhaps the only place in the world which recognizes Appalachian as a distinct cultural nationality.)
 
Adding another strip also allows a shifting of the bottom stripe to become red like the heart of the mountains.
 
A smaller white triangle of sky looks more like a canton, which is what it's supposed to be.
 
And fourteen is a curious number. So I added a stripe.
 
20 stripes?
The flag I show at the Washington Post has 20 stripes, because it's specially made to illustrate journalist Colin Woodard's perception of 'Greater Appalachia', (link to PDF map), which would stretch all the way to New Mexico. But Woodard's perception of Appalachian territoriality is largely based on where people claim 'American' as their nationality in the U.S. census. That is a quality of Appalachiawe've been so thoroughly digested by the American Way, that we've forgotten the nationalities of our ancestorsbut it is a relatively abstract criterion.
The 20-stripe flag of 'Woodardian Appalachia'
 
My map of the Appalachian Homeland is a synthesis of the nuanced, existing boundaries of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the 1935 USDA definition of Southern Appalachia, the UNESCO 'Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere Region', and the Southern Highland Craft Guild. I went county by county, and included each county which is part of any four of those delineations. I offer that map as the initial bounds of the Appalachian cultural homeland.
 
Yet the Appalachian Diaspora would be free to organize 'Appalachian cultural territories' outside of the Homeland. There would be no functional difference between the Homeland states and the Diasporic territories. They would all be cultural service areas of the Appalachian folk-cultural organization. Rather, the difference between Homeland and Diaspora would be aesthetic—how exactly does the mind of Appalachia perceive herself on the earth's surface, in a way that is meaningful to her?
 
Once cultural independence were achieved, individuals who live in adjacent counties would be welcome to form Appalachian cultural groups and accede to the homeland—as long as the area was located more-or-less in the Appalachian Mountains or Foothills. And individuals who live in the vast area depicted in Woodard's map of Greater Appalachia would be welcome to develop Appalachian cultural territories. Same for anywhere in the world where people of Appalachian ancestry, or of chosen Appalachian identity, live.
 
It might be fun to add stripes as the culture continues to unfold, yet my inclination is that the flag stay with 14 stripes. Otherwise as more Appalachian cultural states are incorporated—say, in the Ozarksthe stripes would become thin ribbons. Furthermore, I suspect that some of the initial Appalachian States might eventually chose to differentiate into two or more geographically smaller States which can nestle the local culture. They'd be free to do that. It's about culture, not politics. But if the flag had to keep adding stripes, the flag would become a blur. What do you think?
 
Realizing an Appalachian flag
The actual Appalachian flag will be chosen by the Appalachian People as a whole, when we achieve cultural independence through the separation of nationhood and statehood. I'd be glad even if my designs, along with the designs of my Appalachian fellows, ended up being only historical signposts on the way to a free Appalachian Culture.
***
 
Bright mornin' stars are risin'
Day is a-breakin' in my soul

Oh where are our dear fathers?
They're down in the valley a-prayin'
Day is a-breakin' in my soul

Oh, where are our dear mothers?
They've gone to heaven a-shoutin'
Day is a-breakin' in my soul

Bright mornin' stars are risin'
Day is a-breakin' in my soul
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