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The NAFF Sunday Digest: Coal Mine Canaries and Honoring 'Roots' in Appalachia

Canaries were an important tool in the coal miner's kit for nearly 100 years, long enough for the phrase "canary in the coal mine" to gain status as a commonly used idiom in the English language. So what happened to that songbird of industry?

Smithsonian Magazine explores the history and fate of the canary in the coal mine in this article, published to their website last week.


Meanwhile, the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee honored the acclaimed author of Roots, Alex Haley, at their Heroes of Southern Appalachia Award ceremony. Former governor of Tennessee and friend of Haley, Lamar Alexander, presented the award to Haley's grandson Bill Haley and nephew Chris Haley.

Roots: The Sage of an American Family won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 and was adapted into a culture-shifting television miniseries the next year.

Read all about Alex Haley's contributions to Appalachia and his connection to East Tennessee at the Oak Ridger here.

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