In the Appalachian coalfields, broadform deeds were used, beginning around 1900, to sever the ownership of mineral rights from the ownership of the surface land. Although surface mining was virtually unheard of at the time most of these deeds were signed, Kentucky courts ruled years later that the owners of such deeds could strip mine the land without the consent of the surface owners. On Our Own Land chronicles the citizens’ fight to have the broadform deed declared unconstitutional in Kentucky.
The story unfolds through the voices of local people as the viewer meets a family determined not to move their father’s grave for strip miners, sees the rubble of a strip job “reclaimed” to the letter of the law, and watches as citizens protest strip mine abuses and push the state legislature for reform.
This powerful program is recommended for discussion of effective citizens’ movements and grassroots political organizing, the environmental and economic “tradeoffs” associated with coalmining and industrial development, and the difference that sometimes exists between justice and the law.