Some Elements of American Redoubt Culture

It has been said that most regions of the United States have distinct norms and cultures. Though we lack a distinctive accent, Redoubters definitely have our own culture.

To sum it up in one sentence, I’d say the culture is marked by: fierce independence and conservatism, but with a kindly streak.  I’ll try to articulate that more fully, in the rest of this essay.

A few examples of Redoubt culture:

We mind our own business.

We don’t jump to any “There ought to be law” conclusions.

Appearances don’t count for much.  A dirty car is not a sign of neglect or slovenliness. It is a sign that you live on a dirt road. The majority of windshields have cracks, from road gravel.

When you see a bashed-in front end of a car or truck in the Redoubt, then you automatically assume “deer collision” rather than “fender-bender.”

A man is free to do as he pleases on his own land, but he is also responsible for his own actions.

We try to judge folks as individuals, rather than as groups.

Camouflage is a fashion statement — even for the ladies. Year-round.

Folks are willing to pitch in and lend a hand. If you are loading hay in a field, if someone older than you arrives to load their truck or trailer with hay bales, then you help them load, with a smile.

We reserve judgment about newcomers for several months, or even longer.

When a tree goes down on the county road, we don’t call the county road department. We just break out our chainsaws, and take care of it.

When a family loses a house to fire, there is usually a community of outpouring of support — especially if there is word that the house was uninsured. Total strangers show up with carloads of clothes, bedding, books, and kitchen utensils.

Anyone you meet on a side road gets a wave — even strangers.

People are willing to drive up to 100 miles to try a different restaurant.

You never touch another man’s horse, vehicle, wife, dog, gun, or child. That last one will get you killed.

Though they hand out some speeding tickets, the local police, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers are generally good folks, and to be trusted. You have to drive like an idiot, to get a traffic ticket, in the Redoubt.

Homeschooling is commonplace and accepted.

Home birth is commonplace and accepted.

Home churching is commonplace and accepted.

ATVs are often seen on the streets of small towns.

Most local churches have Saturday chainsaw parties, for the menfolk to cut, split, haul, and stack firewood for elderly widows — even if they aren’t members of the church.

Some common questions, in greeting:

Summer: “Did you get your wood in?”  or,  “Are the mosquitos bad, at your place?”

Fall: “Did you get your elk yet?”

Winter: “Do you need any help getting plowed out?”

Spring: “Have you got your garden in yet?”

There are actually just two seasons in the American Redoubt: Winter and Road Construction.

The gift of a hand-picked quart of huckleberries is more highly valued than a Gift Card of any denomination.

If you let your dog roam, and it kills your neighbor’s chickens, and then your neighbor shoots it dead, then you owe your neighbor’ an apology, and some replacement chickens.

An entire generation of kids in the Redoubt has grown up thinking that houses are supposed to have siding with the decorative pattern: “Tyvek-Tyvek-Tyvek.”

Owning 20 guns does not constitute an “arsenal.”  It isn’t even a “gun collection.”  It is just “a good start.”

You don’t ask a man that you’ve just met his surname. Only first names are sufficient. He will mention his family name to you only when he feels comfortable doing so.

A reliable test of a Redoubt girl that you date is if she baits her own hooks and guts her own fish. And if she guts her own deer, then she is deemed to have “marriage potential.”

Most people only lock their house doors when they leave for a full day or longer.  And they only lock their car doors so they don’t get “gifted” grocery sacks full of zucchini.

At Independence Day parades, candy and fireworks are often thrown to children in the crowd, from the passing floats and vehicles.

The number of quarts of fruits, meats, and vegetables that a family home-cans each year is a status symbol.

The few women with blue-dyed hair are mostly over 70 years old.

Stihl or Husqvarna? That is the question.  Chainsaws are part of the culture, and folks are very opinionated about their preferred brand.

Nearly everyone carries a gun in their car or truck, whether it is hunting season, or not.

In the winter, it is not unusual to see more than one unlocked and unattended vehicle left with its engine idling in a parking lot of a store, church, bank, or post office.

Conversations between men often drift toward guns or hunting.

Conversations between women often drift toward homeschooling — that is, if they don’t first drift toward guns or hunting.

Strangers hold doors open for each other.

Leaving a shopping cart next to your car and driving away is considered insulting to the store owners.

Other drivers will almost always allow you to enter a busy street from a side street ahead of them. I’ve seen drivers get exasperated if you won’t accept their wave-through at an intersection. “No, you go first!”

Generally, folks are polite and helpful. But some families don’t get into town often, and are reluctant to socialize.

I hope that this helps to explain American Redoubt culture. – JWR