These photographs were originally published in Orion Magazine.
In May 2005, photographer Antrim Caskey encountered Maria Gunnoe in Manhattan. Gunnoe had come to protest the practice of mountaintop-removal mining at a Massey Energy shareholders meeting. Two days later, Caskey left for the Cumberland Plateau, where she made these images. “People are scared,” Caskey says. “I’d be scared, too.”
Maria Gunnoe, 37, Bob White, W.Va. “With mountaintop removal, the species we are losing is the human species — just because we’re hillbillies. Hillbillies are the last people you can make fun of — it’s acceptable. We do have educations. We do have lives. There’s going to be an uprising here; the coal industry has turned us into activists. I try not to hate, I really do. There’s a part of me that feels sorry for them. There’s a part of me that would be standing with my foot on their throat and I wouldn’t feel sorry for them.”
Jackie Browning, 56, Horse Creek, W.Va. Browning was poisoned by chemicals used at a coal preparation plant. “I thought I was going to lose my mind. I ti... Read more