July 8, 2014: Closure of the iconic Begoña Elevator in Bilbao

On July 8, 2014, at 11 pm the Begoña Elevator, an iconic feature of the late twentieth-century Bilbao cityscape, ceased to function after nearly seventy years of service.

The walkway at the top of the Begoña Elevator. Photo by Zarateman. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the 1940s, Begoña–once a separate town but incorporated by Bilbao in 1925 as part of its major growth in the twentieth century–was a neighborhood in expansion. Yet despite its geographic proximity to the city center, it remained disconnected on account of the steep hill one had to navigate between the two districts. A project was thus conceived to link Begoña to downtown Bilbao precisely at the point of what was known at the time as Bilbao Aduana train station (later San Nicolás, and currently the Zazpikaleak/Casco Viejo Euskotren-Metro Bilbao intermodal station).

Viewing area at the top of the elevator. Photo by Bachelot Pierre J-P. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Designed by architect Rafael Fontán, the biggest challenge was to insert a significant structure into an already congested cityscape. He achieved this by taking an existing building as its base and as regards the actual design of the elevator, he opted for a stark modernist structure, in contrast to the older surrounding buildings; this decision, to contrast so starkly the new structure from the vicinity, arguably ultimately contributed to creating its iconic status–at least as regards form–quickly becoming one of the city’s emblematic structures.

Begoña Elevator from Itxaropen/Esperanza Street. Photo by Zarateman. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It was made out of reinforced concrete and included a walkway and enclosed vantage point over the city at the Begoña entrance, lending the structure a machine-like form in appearance. In this sense, it resembled an architectural model developed in Switzerland during the early twentieth century. When finished, it came to measure 150 feet in height and immediately stood out in the Bilbao cityscape. It was inaugurated in 1947 and served generations of bilbaínos but it began to lose customers in the 1990s, with the construction of the Bilbao metro and a competing elevator as well as other elevators and escalators that were constructed to link the city center to the hillier surrounding neighborhoods.

The structure remains in place, however, and there is much debate over what could be done with this iconic physical testament to an important part of Bilbao’s recent history.

If architecture is your thing, check out Building Time: The Relatus in Frank Gehry’s Architecture by Iñaki Begiristain, a fascinating work that examines Gehry’s buildings as a kind of narrative.

More general urban studies published by the Center include That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City by Joseba Zulaika; Building the Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation-Building by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal; and Transforming Cities: Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Regeneration in the Basque Country, edited by Arantxa Rodríguez and Joseba Juaristi.

What’s more, Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, edited by Anna Maria Guasch and Joseba Zulaika, is available free to download here.

 

 

Musikene and the CBS Compile the History of Basque Music

The Center for Basque Studies and the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, Musikene, have organized a conference on the history of the Basque music from Prehistory to the present times. The conference took place on June 28 and 29 at Musikene in Donostia-San Sebastian and the pianist and professor Jokin Okiñena offered a piano recital.

After a concert Prof. Okiñena gave in Reno in 2016, he and Xabier Irujo spoke about the existing void in relation to the history of Basque music since the publication of Arana Martija’s work in 1987. To carry out this task, the Center for Basque Studies signed an agreement with Miren Iñarga, director of Musikene.

The resulting volume coordinated by professor Okiñena will be published by the CBS. The project, which emerged thirty years after the publication of the last historical analysis of Basque music by Jose A. Arana Martija, will systematize the history of the Basque music from prehistory to the present and will include a separate section on the contribution of women to this relevant aspect of the Basque history. This is a novel project whose first sketch emerged in 2017 with the signing of an agreement between Musikene and the Center for the celebration of a conference and a piano recital and the publication of a book.

The conference has brought together nine experts on different aspects of the Basque music. Prof. Elixabete Etxebeste lectured about the history of the Basque music from Prehistory to the Middle Ages; Prof. Sergio Barcellona talked about Renaissance and Baroque; Prof. Jon Bagüés about Enlightment; Prof. Isabel Díaz about Basque Music in the 19th century; Prof. Iosu Okiñena about Basque music and Nationalism, Itziar Larrinaga lectured about the Basque music during war and dictatorship (1936-1978) and Mikel Chamizo about contemporary Basque music (from 2000 to the present.) Finally, Prof. Patri Goialde and Mark Barnés lectured about Basque jazz and Prof. Gotzone Higuera focuses on the contribution of Basque women to music.

Program

June 28:

10:00 Opening

10:30 Prof. Elixabete Etxebeste. Prehistory, Antiquity and Middle Ages

11:30 Prof. Sergio Barcellona. Renaissance and Baroque

12:30 Break

13:00 Jon Bagüés. Basque music and Enlightment

14:00 Lunch

15:30 Isabel Díaz. Basque music in the 19th century

16:30 Gotzone Higuera. Basque music and women

17:30 Break

18:00 Patri Goialde y Mark Barnés. Jazz in the Basque Country

20:00 Piano recital by Josu Okiñena

 

June 29

10:00 Josu Okiñena. Basque music and nationalism

11:00 Itziar Larrinaga. Basque music during war and dictatorship (1936-1978)

12:00 Break

12:30 Mikel Chamizo. Basque music in the 21rst century

13:30 Conclusions

14:00 Lunch and meeting of the scientific committee

 

From the Seeds of Jai Alai to the Streets of London

We could say that without the “pilota”, this meeting would not exist, ex professional Jai-Alai player and New England Basque Club integrant Aitor Aldazabal concluded.

By Iñigo Medina Gracia

Aitor Aldazabal, Juan Mari Aramendi, Riki Sotil, Raul Blanco, Edu Arrieta, Patxi Gandiaga and many others gathered in New London CT the 23th of June as organizers during the celebration of the New England’s annual Basque Festival. They were nostalgic but heartfelt when considering this statement.  As the ones who have loved loyally the ancient Basque sport of the “Fronton” in its “Zesta” modality and have to leave it sooner or later, life could be expressed as a set of steps where each one takes you to a different, eventually, completely unexpected one.

Those steps are the ones they experienced after playing at the main frontons of Jai-Alai (or Hi-Li) in Miami, Dania Beach, Hartford, Orlando, Milford, Newport and others. The events occurred during the late 80’s and first 90’s, as the players were on strike, the parallel development of other sports-show competence and the decay of the betting business forced them to reinvent their selves. After getting introduced to some of the organizers or assistant ex-pilotaris and knowing a bit more about their American experience, I noticed that somehow what happened was a recent chapter of Basque emigration history that has not been considered as it deserved to. As multilevel sociological phenomenon, maybe the Jai-Alai 80’s strike and the previous genealogical events which triggered it did not acquire the needed echo within the Basque migration movements. And for sure, it has been and still is, a very interesting individual and collective story.

  

One of the many products of this route synthetized with the creation of the Rhode Island Basque Club in 2003, when some Roberto Guerenabarrena and other Basque-Americans ex “pilotaris” decided to run a Basque Club. This Euskal Etxea later gathered other Basque Diaspora members from states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, finally establishing the New England Basque Club. New England’s Basque Club has been an active chapter of the NABO federation from 2011, celebrating amusing Basque Festivals each year and running different cultural activities always enforcing Basque culture in the East Coast. This time, the place chosen was New London a “well connected enclave between big cities like Boston and New York. This has encouraged other Basques to visit us and join the celebration” organizer Juan Mari Aramendi assessed. In this sense, not only North East coaster Basques came to the meeting. Formers from other Euskal Etxeak or Basques communities like Montreal and Quebec, Florida, California and Nevada could be found onto the about seven hundred assistants.

The meeting was hosted thanks to the collaboration of the New London’s City Council who set the license for the celebration, the main sponsor Thames River Greenery who offered a sale selection of Basque products in this store and obviously the voluntary support carried out by all the members of different Euskal Etxeak. First step of the agenda took place on Friday afternoon at Thames River Greenery, where the visitors had the chance to taste some typical Basque products as cheese or white, rose (Txakoli) and red wine (Rioja). After this, the “Trikipoteo” (a popular run of bars in the Basque Country which always goes with an itinerant live performance of “Trikitixa” or Basque accordion and tambourine or “Pandero”) moved to the Hot Rod Wings bar in Bank Street. New England Basque Club invited the assistants to a tasty dinner based on the specialty of the house: many different types of sauced chicken wings.

Next morning, last steps of the setting up were figuring out at 11.30 when a parade conformed by visitors, dancers and musicians began from the City Hall to the Parade Plaza. The institutional reception lead by the Mayor Michael Passero, and accompained by Juan Mari Aramendi the New England Basque Club president and Iker Goiria from the Regional Council of Gipuzkoa, took place in front of the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. After the welcome “Aurresku”, Passero gladly received all the visitors and underlined the value and importance of the coexistence between communities that the city of New London has hosted from its foundation. He also remarked the naval-harbor connections and strong whaling tradition similarities between both Basque and New England’s histories.

Bars were opened at the Parade Plaza offering different “pintxos” elaborated by Mikel de Luis from the Amona restaurant (NY) and Fernando Zarauzfrom the Txikito restaurant (NY). Also the paellas started to get cooked thanks to the good work of Bonifacio, Danny and Jean Pierrefrom Miami with the cooperation of different voluntaries from the New England Basque Club.

As the day went by, different music and dance performances started within the celebration premises. Musicians brought from Gipuzkoa made more enjoyable if possible the festive atmosphere breathed in the Parade Plaza. The dancing groups this time were “Gauden Bat” from Chino CA, “Zazpiak Bat” from San Francisco CA and “Ardi Beltza” from Lamoille NV. They offered a magnificent and inclusive demonstration (the visitors were allowed to join the dancers and learn Basque “dantzak”) which came with detailed explications about the origin and meaning of each dance. Meanwhile, the “Paella” was ready to get served just before the turn for the “Herri Kirolak” or Rural Sports came.  Woodchopper or “Aizkolari” performances were developed by Juan Mari Aramendi, Riki Sotil and Patxi Gandiaga, being Riki the first courageous contender to chop six trunks in a row and becoming winner of the challenge.

 

Time for the little ones to try some “txinga-eramate” (a Basque rural modality which consists in carrying a heavy dumbbell in each hand within a track. The person who succeeds in making more comebacks with no limit time and without leaving the dumbbells touch the floor, wins) started afterwards. We had the chance to see great young runners before they changed the dumbbells for the rope “Tug of War-Rope pulling”or “Sokatira” competition, where the struggle got funnier when the adults joined it (my muscles were aching next morning!).

Music continued grooving until dusk when the time to close an enriching Basque culture day in New London arrived. The outcome of the festival was an undoubtedly success, considering the beauty of how the sown seeds of old Jai-Alai Basque-American stories could blossom nowadays in such marvelous gathering and cultural expression.

 

July 5, 1846: Birth of mathematician Zoel García de Galdeano

On July 5, 1846 Zoel García de Galdeano y Yanguas was born in Pamplona-Iruñea. In later life, he came to be regarded as a champion of modernizing mathematics in the Spanish state according to the latest developments in Europe and beyond.

Zoel García de Galdeano y Yanguas (1846-1924)

After García de Galdeano’s father was killed while on active service in the Spanish military, he was raised by his maternal grandfather José Yanguas y Miranda (1782-1863), a historian, jurist, and well-known figure in Navarrese political life in the first half of the nineteenth century, promoting a kind of pro-foral liberalism. The young García de Galdeano was thus raised in a learning environment receptive to new ideas. In 1871 he obtained his doctorate and thereafter began a lengthy professional journey teaching math at several high schools throughout the Spanish state as well as promoting the so-called free institutes (experimental secular high schools that emphasized liberal values such as civic responsibility and modernization in its various guises). At the same time, he published voraciously with the aim of introducing the latest European mathematical currents into the peninsula.

Finally, in 1889 he obtained a tenured professorship in analytical geometry at his alma mater, the University of Zaragoza, where he worked until his retirement in 1918. Once established at the university level, he began lobbying to provide more adequate networks and platforms for sharing and disseminating mathematical knowledge.  In 1891 he founded El Progreso Matemático (Mathematical Progress), the first strictly mathematical journal published in Spain; and he was the first mathematician in the state to begin attending international conferences on a regular basis. Most significantly, García de Galdeano was present at the famous 1900 speech of influential German mathematician David Hilbert at the Sorbonne in Paris, in which he posed a set of problems that to a large extent came to define the direction of the discipline through the twentieth century. Moreover, he was one of the main figures behind the creation of the Spanish Mathematics Society in 1911, and became its president in 1916.

He died in Zaragoza in 1924, having played a critical role in modernizing the study of mathematics in the peninsula.

 

“The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History” by Xabier Irujo

New book!

The Bombing of Gernika

A Short History

by Xabier Irujo

 

And they rained down fire, shrapnel and death on us. And they destroyed our town. And that night we couldn’t go back home for our supper, or sleep in our beds. We had no home anymore. We had no house. But that event, which was so incomprehensible to us, left no feelings of hate or vengeance in us—only a huge, immense desire for peace, and for such events never to happen again. A flag of peace should rise up from the ruins of what was our town for all the peoples of the world.

 

— Response to German Chancellor Herzog by the survivors of the bombing of Gernika

 

 

Few events in the history of the world have aroused the passions of the decent, the fair, the peaceful, and the just as much as the brutal terror bombing attack on the Basque town of Gernika. From the decision of the fascist forces to attack the open city, to the horror of the bombing, to its aftermath, this short, readable history by a foremost expert tells the terrible events that colored not only the modern history of the Basques, but of all of humanity as it ushered in a new age of warfare.

$10.00
ISBN 978-1-935709-91-6
SHOP HERE

 

 

If you’re interested in The Bombing of Gernika, you might also like …

The impact of war and violence is one of the more unfortunate, although unavoidable, features of the modern Basque experience. Here at the

Centerwe have endeavored to reflect this salient reality in numerous and varied publications addressing the issue. More general studies of political violence, with a Basque dimension incorporated, include Empire & Terror: Nationalism / Postnationalism in the New Millennium, edited by Begoña Aretxaga, Dennis Dworkin, Joseba Gabilondo, and Joseba Zulaika. This collection is the result of an ambitious conference held at the CBS in 2002 that addressed questions of nationalism, globalization, terrorism, democracy, and culture in the wake of the events of 9/11. Along similar lines, Violence and Communication, edited by Jose Antonio Mingolarra, Carmen Arocena, and Rosa Martín Sabaris, takes a Basque-inspired gaze at broader questions of how violence has been represented in visual and print form, drawing on diverse examples from around the world and through history, and incorporating thematic issues such as women and sexuality, poverty and inequality, and the Internet and violence. States of Terror, a collection of essays by the late Begoña Aretxaga, reflects another attempt to understand the phenomenon of political violence on its own terms and in the specific contexts in which it takes place, in this case with a special gendered focus on political conflict in the Basque Country and Northern Ireland. Several of our publications have acted as a historical lens onto the impact of war and violence on Basque society and beyond

.War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936–1946, edited by Sandra Ott, demonstrates the impact of warfare on regular people in an intense decade that left a lasting social and political impression on the Basque Country, particularly in creating the category of Basque refugees. Furthermore, David Lyon’s Bitter Justice focuses on other casualties of war: Basque prisoners during the Civil War and the early years of the Franco regime while Cameron J. Watson’s Basque Nationalism and Political Violence explores the roots of ETA within the historical trajectory of the violence endemic to modern Spain and the conflict between Spanish and Basque nationalism. Finally, the Center has also published contributions to understanding the twin themes of war and violence from the perspective of Basque literature. The Red Notebook, by Arantxa Urretabizkaia, is a groundbreaking novel that explores the tension between political commitment and motherhood on the part of its main character. And the literary anthology Our Wars: Short Fiction on Basque Conflicts, edited by Mikel Ayerbe Sudupe, serves as a wonderful platform for considering just how much Basque authors have reflected on the impact of war and conflict on Basque society from the Civil War down to the present.

June 29, 1854: Death of first Basque-language woman writer Bizenta Mogel

On June 29, 1854 Bizenta Mogel died in Abando, Bizkaia at the age of eighty-two. She should be considered not just the first women to publish a book in Basque, but the first author in children’s literature in the language.

Bizenta Mogel (1772-1854)

Bizenta Antonia Mogel Elgezabal was born in Azkoitia, Gipuzkoa, in 1772. She came from a literary family. Her brother, Juan Jose Mogel (1781-1849), was also a writer, while her uncle, Joan Antonio Mogel (1745-1804), was the author of what is generally considered to be the first novel in Basque, Peru Abarka (published posthumously in 1881).  Indeed, it was the latter who would play a pivotal role in her education. Orphaned at an early age, together with her brother she went to live with her uncle in Markina, Bizkaia. He taught both siblings how to read and write in Latin, Spanish, and Basque, and she impressed with her obvious intelligence and love of learning.

She married Eugenio Basozabal, with whom she went to live in Abando (now part of Bilbao). He later inherited a printing press on the death of his father, and this helped immensely in her efforts to publish her work.  In 1804 she published Ipui onac (Moral tales), which, according to Jose Manuel López Gaseni, “Translated Basque Literature,” in Basque Literary History (p. 315):

brought together fifty of Aesop’s fables that she translated thanks to her knowledge of Latin, learned from her uncle—the sort of training few women of the period could obtain. The intent of this collection was moralistic and educational, as can be deduced from its subtitle: “Good stories in which young Basque people will find edifying lessons that will help them lead their lives down the right path.” It attempted to substitute traditional stories that, according to the prologue, were considered pernicious and were rejected by the educational institutions of the period.

Moreover, as Mari Jose Olaziregi notes in “Worlds of Fiction: An Introduction to Basque Narrative,” also in Basque Literary History (pp. 140-41), its

significance as the first published work written by a woman also signals the birth of children’s literature in Basque. Although the didactic style and sense of moral purpose is prevalent in the text, we should underscore the importance of the book as a primary example of a new type of fiction as well as being an exponent for a new type of reading public, more literary but still somewhat removed from a more controlled aestheticism. Ipui onak is in fact a translation and adaptation of Aesop’s fables and proved an inspiration for a whole group of fabulists, although in most cases verse was the preferred form of writing. Bizenta’s case is altogether exceptional since it is estimated that only 15 percent of women were literate in the Basque country at that time … It is important to note that Bizenta subscribed to John Locke’s educational model in her work, a model that perceived fables as a useful resort to educate children.

The work was a major success and went through several reprints. Bizenta Mogel went on to publish other books, and she was also a renowned writer of traditional Christmas bertso-paperak (printed verses for popular consumption), but she was most remembered for her first and groundbreaking work. She was also a teacher and interestingly, she was known for her wide knowledge of medicinal plants, a knowledge she put to great use in helping people with illnesses who came to her in search of a cure.

The Center publishes Basque Literary History, edited by Mari Jose Olaziregi, an ambitious work that traces the evolution of various literary styles in the Basque language.

Check out this charming representation of Bizenta Mogel’s life in illustrated form (with commentary in Basque):

 

Presentation of the book “A Basque cry for freedom in New York”

          Josu Erkoreka, secretary of Public Governance and Self-Government of the Basque Government and Iñaki Anasagasti, former Basque senator and Xabier Irujo, director of the Center for Basque Studies have presented a book on José Luis de la Lombana.

           On the 80th anniversary of the speech given by a young non-anglophone Basque at the Madison Square Garden in New York, a book about Lombana has been presented at the Sabino Araba Foundation in Bilbao.
Both authors underlined that the book collects “the incredible trajectory of José Luis de la Lombana, a young activist of the Basque Nationalist Party, born in Gasteiz within a Basque nationalist family, which during the years of the 1936 war and the subsequent dictatorship carried out a great anti-Franco activity calling for peace in Europe and the Americas and for Basque freedom”.
          Erkoreka and Anasagasti -authors of recommended monographs on the contemporary history of Euskadi and the Basque Government, with the collaboration of Xabier Irujo- have detailed during the presentation Lombana’s life trajectory, from his education in Madrid, his participation in the anti-Franco resistance, his incarceration in Gasteiz, his departure to exile in France, his activism in Barcelona where he worked as an editor for the Basque nationalist newspaper Euzkadi, supporting the Basque Government in exile, and, finally, his long years of exile in Colombia.
          The book focuses on Lombana’s intervention at the Second World Youth Congress for Peace that took place in New York in 1938 where he argued against the pro-Franco propaganda in the United States. Lombana was one of the delegates of the Basque Nationalist Party in the World Youth Congress for Peace and during his period of activism in the United States, he made “innumerable observations about American society and the American Basques, establishing bridges between different North American groups and the Basques. All this within the framework of a complex and tumultuous period both in the United States and in the rest of the world.”
          In New York, Lombana who at the time was only 27 years old found a society that was not so uninformed about the war and the Basques. The Americans had followed through the press the ups and downs of the war and had a fairly clear criterion around the Basque reality. But in the end Lombana outlined a rather “pessimistic” approach. In his opinion there was little to be done from America to help Europe in general and Spain or the Basque Country and Catalonia in particular. Very little. Both geographically and intellectually, the United States felt alienated from Europe and its social, cultural and political problems.
          The book also analyzes the first years of the delegation of the Basque Government in New York, three years before the arrival of Lehendakari Agirre escaping from the Nazis in World War II. There are also reports on the efforts to support the Basque Government in France and the United States and letters on the propaganda effort both in favor of Basque nationalism and the rebels and their international allies, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Xabier Irujo

Joseba Zulaika returns to Itziar to talk about his classic Basque Violence

In June 22 Joseba Zulaika gave a talk in Itziar, his home town and the place of the ethnographic work for which he is best known, Basque Violence: Metaphor and Sacrament. Almost forty years ago, having concluded his fieldwork, Zulaika was asked to give a talk in Itziar and he said that this one, now that ETA is ended, felt like a repetition of that one—when he had to face his village neighbors and explain what he had “discovered” about the place.

Zulaika repeated his argument about the Homeric plot underlying “The Tragedy of Carlos”—the two “milk brothers” and close friends Martin and Carlos who later became political antagonists in the eyes of the community and when Carlos was killed by ETA Martin didn’t approve of it. Zulaika later applied the Homeric scheme to the painful history of ETA in Itziar—the plight of the hero who falls into a tragic error. The tragic error is really an error, yet it is the sort of error a good man would make. It is thus an act both free and conditioned. It is not forced upon him, but he makes it under conditions so adverse that we watch him with compassion. There could be many readings of Itziar’s events but Zulaika emphasized that, far beyond the current “terrorist” all encompassing discourse, only an ethnographic approach could make justice to the actual histories of the pople. Zulaika said that giving his talk in Itziar was unlike giving it anywhere else—because he was in the presence of the protagonists of his ethnography and this implied a “repetition” in the deeper sense that the presence of Martin and Carlos and the former ETA activists wasn’t just a memory of past events, but an affirmation of the present and future realities of Itziar in this post-ETA era.

June 21, 1813: Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz

On June 21, 1813, combined Iberian and British forces led by the Duke of Wellington defeated the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan at the Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz, a turning point in the Peninsular War (1807-1814). Coming in the aftermath of Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, it could be argued that this battle served to underscore the beginning of the end of Napoleonic dominance of Europe.

Monument to the battle in the Virgen Blanca Square, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Photo by Basotxerri. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Following the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, French forces had been forced to retreat northward. In May 1813, Wellington’s coalition forces moved quickly from northern Portugal toward the French border to cut off their escape route, and the French were forced to retreat to Burgos. And on June 21, the two sides engaged in the battle, about two miles outside the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz in the valley of the River Zadorra.

Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz (1813). Map by Gregory Fremont-Barnes. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The French forces occupied the south side of the river, encircled by the coalition forces to the west and north. Wellington divided his attack into four columns, striking at the French from the south. west, and north, while the final assault was aimed at the French rearguard. Perhaps the key moment came when the column led by General Thomas Graham appeared from the north along the road to Bilbao, around noon. Seeing this, the French realized they were encircled and began to retreat toward Vitoria-Gasteiz. At the same time, their escape route toward the north-east (Pamplona-Iruñea and Baiona) was also cut off by troops commanded by the Bizkaian Colonel Francisco Tomás Anchia, aka Francisco Longa. Finally, the combined coalition forces managed to cross the Zadorra and push the French back further still. The morale of the latter collapsed, and tens of thousands fled the battle along the only escape route possible, toward the east and Agurain (Salvatierra).There were approximately 5,000 deaths on each side.

Model recreation of the battle in the Araba Armory Museum. Photo by Zarateman. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By the end of the year, Wellington’s forces had captured both Donostia-San Sebastián, Pamplona-Iruñea, and were encamped in France. The Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz had proved to be a turning point in the war.

Interestingly, the battle was the inspiration for Beethoven’s Opus 91, titled “Wellington’s Victory, or, the Battle of Vitoria” (Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria) or just the “Battle Symphony” or “Wellington’s Victory,” which portrays the battle as musical drama.

 

“Winnewhat?” “Winne-e-macca!” NABO 2018

 

“Winnewhat?”

Winn-e-macca

This is how I could summarize my first contact with natives of Winnemucca, Humboldt state in northern Nevada. I guess they forgave my deficient pronunciation thanks to the fact that we were in a relaxing setting, surrounded by Basque-Americans at the Ormaechea’s Basque Restaurant bar.

“You will improve that after a Picon, buddy!”

(By Iñigo Medina Gracia. Photo credit Benan Oregi)

Our main purpose was to attend as guests the 40thAnnual Basque Festival and the NABO Summer Convention (main meeting for the North American Basques Clubs) in Winnemucca on Saturday, 8th of June. This time, the club delegates came from all over the USA (states of California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and even Washington D.C. were represented). Assistants were called to follow the development of main programs ran by the federation chairs. They analyzed the organization’s developments over the past five months, designed and approved future projects, and voted for internal presidential elections. Philippe Acheritogaray from San Francisco’s BCC was elected as new NABO president. Incumbent president Annie Gavica from Boise Basque Museum became Vice-President. Mayi Petracek from Colorado was ratified as Treasurer, and our partner at the CBS Kate Camino from Reno became the new Secretary (Zorionak Kate!).

As guests, we had the chance to mention some of the projects we are running currently.

Basque librarian Iñaki Arrieta gave an introduction about the project carried out by the CBS and the Basque Library, which is located in the UNR. He underlined the work homed by this entity, and mentioned the Library’s vision of acquisitions as a memory and research portal institution focused on Basque Culture and Basque Diaspora. The mission of the Jon Bilbao’s Basque Library is the world’s leading academic library on Basque Diaspora primary focused in North America. Its duty as institution is to develop a collection of Basque resources, preserve the documentary heritage of the Basque Diaspora in the US, and serve as research portal in English to memory institutions. Inaki reported the importance of various current donations done by several individuals (Anita Anacabe, Cengotitabengoa Family or Linda Dufurrena), including the recent donation of Frank Bergon as an incentive for other Diaspora members who could contribute to enrich the Archives. A new digital management system with different repositories designed by the UNR was also presented.

Basque Government’s representative Benan Oregi, mentioned the recent programs they are offering within the Diaspora and also in the Basque Country. Presented projects were  ”Gaztemundu” program and “Euskal Herria: huge migration territory”. This last testing pilot project focused on bringing a current approach and wide scoop perspective about the historical importance of Basque Diaspora oriented to high school students in Euskal Herria. Summer courses ran by the Directorate for the Basque Community Abroad in Azkoitia during 12 and 13 of July, were also mentioned. The leitmotiv of the summer courses this time will be “Migration and Mobility within the Basque Community Abroad”. I was also presented in plenum as assistance and management interlocutor between the Basque Government and the North American Basque Clubs.

After 7pm, Ardi Beltza dancers from Ruby Mountain performed their “Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika”, an emotive representation about the bombing of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War. The performance featured the recently published “The Bombing of Gernika, A Short History”, written by Dr. Xabier Irujo and published by the CBS. The book narrates“the decision of the fascist forces to attack the open city, (…) the horror of the bombing, (…)  its aftermath,and (…) the terrible events that colored not only the modern history of the Basques, but of all of humanity as it ushered in a new age of warfare.”

After dinner, the Basque-American band “Amerikanuak” made the night enjoyable with their concert in the surrounding area of the Ormaechea’s Restaurant. Assistants had a good time and did not waste the chance to dance typical and popular Basque songs until midnight.

Next morning at 8am, the brave participants in the Festival ran (some of us just walked) the 5K run proposed by the organization. It was a nice chance to burn the delicious and generous dinner offered the night before at Ormaechea’s, one of the two Basque restaurants settled in Winnemucca. After that, everything was ready for the scheduled parade along the city. Assistants held a wake over to ensure themselves a strategic position in both sides of the West Winnemucca Blvd in order to guarantee the best chance for picking up the sweets that the parade participants were going to throw.

At 12am, the opening ceremonies took place at Nixon Lawn where the dancing performances started while the requests to participate in the Basque sporting events were open. Two bars with beverages and Txorizo sandwiches offered the assistants a nice way to season the combination of warm weather, friendly atmosphere and open Basque culture. The first floor of the East Center of Winnemucca’s Convention Center was fulfilled by several stands of vendors that mixed Basque thematic items and Western crafts. The visitors also had the opportunity to visit an historical exhibit about the Basque Country provided by the Boise Basque Museum, get involved into AISA Euskara courses and purchase the varied publications on Basque themes edited by CBS that our partner Daniel Montero was featuring there.

At 1.30pm, a typical Basque lunch was offered to all participants. The menu included salad, beans, lamb stew, bread, steak and dessert. The afternoon agenda was fulfilled with the Txerriki sausage show off and paella exhibition and sale at 5,30pm. After dining at the iconic Basque Martin Hotel, we topped it all with the dance at West Hall of the Convention Center. The bands Decoy, Amerikanuak and Ardi Beltza performed, and created a festive atmosphere until midnight.

Sunday morning held no pessimistic feelings but fraternity and holy joy at 9am during the Basque Catholic mass offered at the Winnemucca Convention Center. After the homily, participants gathered at the West Hall to have a marvelous Basque breakfast of tripota, jamon, chorizo, eggs, potatoes and bread. The Basque dance competition awards were announced, which marked the end of a marvelous festival in Winnemucca. Or should I say “Winn-e-macca”?

 

 

 

 

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