Historic Chattahoochee Commission.
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Cultural Diversity

Here in the late 20th century the cultural composition of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley region is nearly as diverse as it must have been in the years immediately before the Indian removal of the 1830s. During that time, the streets of Columbus would have been filled with a medley of voices speaking dialects of Spanish, German, Hebrew, Greek, French, Muscogee Creek, Choctaw, Yuchi, and a dozen or more varieties of English, revealing ancestral origins rangeing from West Africa, the West Indies, Ireland, and Scotland to New England, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

Grave shelter. Photo copyright by Fred C. Fussell.
Rural graveyards around the Chattahoochee Valley reveal many examples of traditional decorative devices that are used to express personal loss or to honor deceased relatives and friends. The origins of grave shelters such as this one in northern Barbour County, Alabama, are uncertain, but it is possible that they may lie in the historic Native American practice of burying deceased relatives directly in the floor of the family household.

During the decades prior to the American Civil War and continuing through the 1930s, regional culture in the Chattahoochee Valley gradually polarized into two major components, almost to the exclusion of any others. The population became nearly evenly divided between Anglo American and African American citizens.

Even though the predominant cultural components in the region today remain about evenly split between black and white, the decades following the two World Wars and the Korean Conflict brought immigrants in substantial numbers into the region from Europe and Asia--particularly from Germany, France, and Russia, and from Korea, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Japan, and Thailand--and later from the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America.

Audio file clip for Hello Stranger. »AU File, 171KB (21 Seconds)   Hello Stranger: Doug Booth, vocal & guitar; Joe Berry, guitar; Wendell Berry, bass; All audio files copyright 1981, George Mitchell; Distributed by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission.
MP3 file clip for Hello Stranger. »MP3 File, 43KB (21 Seconds)  

Much of the influx of immigrants into the Chattahoochee Valley region during the mid to late 20th Century has been due to the significant presence of two major military bases in the region--Fort Benning in Georgia, and Fort Rucker in Alabama. Now, after nearly a century of social and racial symmetry, the Chattahoochee Valley is once again a place of increasingly complex cultural diversity.

Church scene. Photo copyright by Fred C. Fussell.
Religion and places of worship are among the strongest of factors in the perpetuation of traditional Southern culture. From the most humble to the very grandest, churches and their various congregations are a focal point in every Southern community.

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