Month: July 2016 (page 2 of 2)

July 14, 1894: Basque flag flies for first time

Euskadi

The ikurriña. Photo by Muhamedmesic, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On July 14, 1894 the ikurriña–today the Basque national flag–was publicly displayed for the first time outside the Euzkeldun Batzokija, the party headquarters of the Basque Nationalist Party. Designed by brothers Sabino and Luis Arana, it was originally intended to symbolize Bizkaian nationalism but later came to represent the Basque Country as a whole.

The term ikurriña derives from the Basque word ikur, meaning “mark” or “sign.” In the words of Cameron J. Watson, in Basque Nationalism and Political Violence:

The flag was composed of two crosses, one white and the other green, superimposed on a red background. The white cross represented the importance of religion, while the green one represented the Bizkaian “race,” its ancient laws (the fueros), and Euskara. The red background, according to Arana, symbolized the fact that Bizkaians were “ready to shed their blood in defense of the two crosses.”

The ikurriña was officially adopted as the flag of the Basque Autonomous Region in 1936 but, following the victory of General Franco in the Basque Country during the Spanish Civil War, it was banned. It was legalized once more in 1977 and was adopted as the official flag of the Basque Autonomous Community in 1979.

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An ikurriña incorporating the club crest of rugby team Biarritz Olympique. Photo by Willtron, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nowadays, the ikurriña enjoys widespread acceptance as the national flag of all Basques.

Reno Basque Festival This Weekend

 

The Zazpiak Bat Reno Basque Club will be hzazpiak bat logoosting its 49th–yes 49th!–Basque Festival this weekend.

The festival kicks off on Friday evening, July 15, at 7pm at Louis’ Basque Corner, with the main events taking place on Saturday, July 16 at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno from 10am-10pm. There will be Basque dancing by the local Zazpiak Bat dancers as well as the Irrintzi Dancers from Winnemucca, NV, a bota contest for the kids, rural sports exhibitions, and a txinga (weight carrying) contest that is open to the public. Live music will be provided by Mercedes Mendive, from Elko, NV, at the public dance from 6-9pm.

Food and drink will be available for purchase all day, along with items from various vendors. Everyone is welcomed to join in the fun. For more information check out Zazpiak Bat at Facebook.

 

Experts gather to discuss Basque Academic Diaspora

On July 12 the University of the Basque Country held the First Symposium on the Basque Academic Diaspora at its campus in Donostia-San Sebastián.

Quoting the organizers’ own introduction:

This 1st Symposium on the Basque Academic Diaspora is devised as a starting point to lay the foundations  of an international network of academics and researchers, with Basque descent or ties with  the Basque Country, dispersed all over the world. The network aims to stay in tune with the  roots that define their members, foster and consolidate future partnerships for mutual benefit, in terms of knowledge and sense of belonging. It will be the opportunity to identify the research, intellectual and cultural activity  scattered internationally and link  it to its roots in the Basque Country.

The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies was well represented at the event. Bill Douglass himself gave the keynote lecture, “Configuring an International Scholarly Network of Basque Diaspora Specialists,” and Xabier Irujo spoke about  “Basque Bibliographic Production.”

See full details of the symposium here.

A busy summer for Joseba Zulaika

The Center’s Joseba Zulaika has had a busy summer already! On June 16, he presented a paper at the symposium Law and Image II: Representing the Nation-State, at Birkbeck, University of London. Zulaika’s talk was titled “Images, Fantasy, and the Law: The Limits of the Nation-State and the Manufacturing of Terror.”

He then took part in a conference organized through the University of the Basque Country summer school. Held June 29-July 1 and titled “On Twenty-first Century Nationalism,” the conference attempted to answer some of the questions surrounding the meaning of nationalism in general, and Basque nationalism in particular, in the age of globalization and political and economic integration. Zulaika gave a presentation titled “From the Big World to the Small World and Back Again.” See a video of the presentation here.

What’s more, Zulaika also recently published an interesting online article, “A Tale of Two Museums,” for the journal Anthropology News.  In the article Zulaika explores the central role played by two museums–San Telmo in Donostia-San Sebastián and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao–in rethinking the Basque Country in the twenty-first century. Read the full article here.

Check out another Basque-themed article in the same journal, this time on the topic of Basque food: “A Taste of the Basque Country,” by Nikki Gorrell from the College of Western Idaho, discusses the importance of the pintxo or Basque finger-food in Basque culture as a whole. Check out the full article here.

 

New restaurants reflect contemporary Basque dining in the US

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Family-style dining, often in an historic hotel premises, has been at the heart of traditional Basque-American gastronomy for years. But in recent times a different kind of Basque restaurant has burst onto the scene offering a more contemporary twist on the Basque dining experience.

One of the latest of these to emerge is Urdaneta in Portland, OR.  Chef Javier Canteras, the winner of a reality show, used his $150,000 prize to establish the restaurant, which will open in mid-July and is based on the cuisine of the Basque Country and northern Spain, including pintxos, hand-carved Spanish ham, and tortilla. Check out two reports on this new restaurant here and here.

Urdaneta is following in a more recent trend in Basque-American dining that was established by the likes of Basque bistro Fringale in San Francisco, originally opened by chef Gerald Hirigoyen and J.B. Lorda in September 1991, and now owned by Jean-Marie Legendre; and Hirigoyen’s new venture with the “West Coast Basque cuisine” of Piperade, also in San Francisco, which he opened with his wife Cameron in 2002.

Diners in Southern California can now also get a flavor of the Donostia pintxo experience at A Basq Kitchen in Redondo Beach, where owner Beñat “Chef Bernard” Ibarra brings the flavors of authentic Basque cuisine to Los Angeles’ Southbay. See a report on this restaurant, which opened just last year, here.

The East Coast, too, is not short of contemporary Basque dining options, with New York home to (among others) Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s  Txikito and the pintxos bar Huertas, And further down the coast is La Bergerie in Alexandria, VA, founded in 1974 by the brothers Bernard and Jean Campagne-Ibarcq, which offers a range of French and Basque cuisine.

This list, which is by no means comprehensive, serves to highlight a new trend in Basque-American dining toward a more contemporary culinary experience. That said, there will always be a place for the traditional family-style experience of the Basque-American restaurant.

If you’re interested in Basque food, check out a publication from the Etxepare Basque InstituteOn Basque Cuisine, by Hasier Etxeberria, which is available free to download here.

 

 

 

July 6, 1808: The Baiona Statute and the brief rule of Joseph I

On July 6, 1808, Baiona (Bayonne) in Lapurdi assumed center-stage once more in the dramatic events unfolding in Napoleonic Europe when the Baiona Statute was officially approved, paving the way for Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, to become Joseph I of Spain.

Joseph-Bonaparte

Joseph Bonarparte, the brief Joseph I of Spain (1808-1813). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This agreement formed part of a wider strategy on the part of Napoleon to control Spain as yet another part of his satellite outposts in his enduring (and almost successful) quest to rule Europe as a whole. For the background context to these events, and the later consequences of Napoleon’s Iberian adventures, see an earlier post we did here.

In 1808 the Spanish Kingdom was officially in an alliance with the French Empire, but following the abdication of Charles IV of Spain and the brief rule of his son Ferdinand VII, Napoleon sought to install his brother on the Spanish throne as the best means of controlling the country.

In order to demonstrate that this was fully compliant with a due legal process, however, Napoleon convened a meeting of Spanish notables in Baiona to draft and approve the constitutional basis for the new regime. The resultant so-called Baiona Statute was duly approved on July 6 and promulgated on July 8. In effect, though, Joseph was a puppet ruler, with most decisions regarding Spain being taken by Napoleon and his military staff.

Joseph I of Spain abdicated after the French loss at the Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz in 1813. As Philippe Veyrin notes in The Basques of Lapurdi, Zuberoa, and Lower Navarre: Their History and Their Traditions,

in June 1813, the loss of the battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz obliged the French armies to fall back on our frontier. King Joseph was responsible for the defeat. He took refuge in a house in Senpere—Suhastia in the Elbarron (Helbarron) district—where, on July 11, he received the Emperor’s emissary bringing him notification that he had been stripped of his command, which was handed over to Marshal Soult, who turned up the very next day and took over straightaway.

 

Two Basque Saints Remembered This Week

Today, July 7, as I’m sure many of you are aware, is Saint Fermin’s Day, after which the world famous festival in Iruñea-Pamplona, Nafarroa is named. But did you also know that July 4 this year was a holiday in Bizkaia, on the occasion of the feast day of the province’s first saint, Balentin Berriotxoa (also spelled Berrio-Otxoa)? Today we thought we’d take a quick look at the individuals behind these two holidays.

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Saint Balentin Berriotxoa. Image by vinhanonline.com, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Balentin Faustino Berriotxoa Arizti was born in Elorrio, Bizkaia, in 1827. At age 18 he entered the Logroño Seminary but after three years, lacking the necessary funds to continue his studies, he returned home to Elorrio where he worked as a carpenter with his father. Finally, though, in 1851 he was ordained a priest and became a well-known figure in his local area.

His real vocation, however, was to be a missionary and to that end in 1854 he joined the Dominican Order. It is around this time that he is reputed to have said, half in jest, that he would eventually become Bizkaia’s first saint. In 1857, he was sent to Asia to work as a missionary, arriving first in Manila. There he set about studying Vietnamese as his final destination was to be Tonkin, in what is today the northern part of Vietnam.

When he arrived there in 1858, Emperor Tự Đức of Vietnam was sanctioning a particularly bloody persecution of all foreign missionaries, with no quarter offered. This was due to a general suspicion of foreigners that stemmed from previous foreign efforts to depose his father as king. The result was that Berriotxoa often had to carry out his parish duties among the converts in his charge under cover of darkness and away from any official eyes. As timed passed, though, so this was increasingly difficult. The emperor issued a decree to destroy the Christian community in the country and in 1861 Berriotxoa was arrested and, following a trial, he was sentenced to death. On November 1, 1861, he was beheaded. His remains were eventually transferred back to Elorrio, where they are kept in the parish church.

Berriotxoa was beatified in 1905, along with the other so-called Vietnamese Martyrs, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988, making him the first Bizkaian-born saint. July 4 is an annual holiday in Elorrio in honor of Berriotxoa that is also occasionally observed in Bizkaia as a whole. One can also visit the Balentin Berriotxoa Museum in Elorrio.

Saint Fermin of Amiens, meanwhile, was born in Iruñea-Pamplona (Pompaelo in Latin) c.272, reputedly the son of a pagan Roman of senatorial rank, who converted to Christianity. At age 18 he was sent to Toulouse (Tolosa in Occitan) in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, where he was ordained. Thereafter, following an initial period preaching the gospel in Nafarroa he was sent to Gaul as a missionary, settling in Amiens, and becoming a bishop at the age of 24. Yet there was still much hostility to Christianity among the Gaulish tribes. As a consequence, Fermin was arrested and because he refused to give up his faith he was beheaded on September 25, 303.

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The decapitation of Saint Fermin, as depicted in the Orreaga-Roncesvalles Church, Nafarroa. Photo by Rowanwindwhistler, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After certain relics of Saint Fermin were brought back to Iruñea-Pamplona in the late 12th century, annual celebrations in his honor gradually took on more importance. Two such festivals are currently held in the city: the famous festival in July of course, and San Fermin Txikito or San Fermin Txiki (Little Saint Fermin) in the Old Quarter of the city, every September 25.  The town of Lesaka in northern Nafarroa also celebrates the July date and Fermin is, likewise, still honored in Amiens as well. Check out this interesting article on the origins of Saint Fermin.

 

A tale about “Tales from Basques in the United States

Over the past few months we have been featuring selected stories the monumental 2-volume work, Basques in the United States with principal research by Koldo San Sebastián, with the assistance of Argitxu Camus-Etxekopar, Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe, Jone Laka, and José Luis Madarieta and more. On the dual occasion of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, celebrating Basque culture in all its forms, and the impending publication of an additional volume of Basques in the United States, we’d like to take some time out to recap some of the amazing stories we’ve come across these past few months.

Basques in the US vol 1

 

As we mentioned at the outset, we always intended for this groundbreaking work to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we wanted it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US. In that regard, we’d first and foremost like to thank each and every one of you there who have commented on the posts, either on the blog itself or via our facebook page.

Basques in the US vol 2

What’s been really interesting to see, we think, is the extraordinary variety of individual life stories we’ve been able to share; so for every tale of immigrant success, as in the cases of Jean Etchebarren and Santiago Arrillaga, there have been more sobering accounts, as for example in the stories of Txomin Malasechevarria or Domingo Aldecoa. We have been treated to uplifting stories, like that of the woman sheepherder Juanita Mendiola Gabiola, and other tales of resilience and drive, as in those of the women of the Basque boardinghouses. We’ve met Basque moonshiners, bootleggers, and outright scammers; but whatever they put their hand to, Basques certainly earned a reputation for hard work, as recalled in the truly extraordinary case of Antonio Malasechevarria. And if all that were not enough, Basques were even responsible for saving the Paiute cutthroat trout!

So here’s to all those Basques that in their own way contributed to what is the life story of the United States itself. We’re going to be scaling down on the frequency of these posts for a while, just until we can adapt some of the tales from the forthcoming volume 3 of the work. But you can be sure there are plenty more surprises in store from this new batch of anecdotes!

We intend for Basques in the United States to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US. We’d encourage you to share your own family stories with us, by clicking here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.

5,000-year-old Livestock Pens Found in Araba

117205_webA join research and exploration initiative between the University of Basque Country (UPV-EHU), the University of Barcelona, and the CSIC-National Research Council, led by UPV-EHU Professor of Prehistory Javier Fernández-Eraso, has discovered 5,000-year-old livestock pens in Araba.

The find demonstrates the use of rock-shelters as encloses for sheep and goats by agropastoral communities during the Chalcolothic period (also known as the Copper Age) in the Basque Country and across the northwestern Iberian Peninsula. The find also complements previous research conducted by the same team, which documented the presence of livestock enclosures dating back to the Neolithic Era, approximately 6,000 years ago.

arqueologia_700Ana Polo-Díaz, a researcher at the University of Basque Country’s Department of Geography, Prehistory, and Archeology added, “This is a piece of pioneering work in the studies on agropastoral communities on the Iberian Peninsula. We have evidence that the human groups that occupied San Cristóbal during the Chalcolithic used the shelter as a pen for goats and/or sheep and that this use, although repetitive throughout hundreds of years, was not ongoing but of a temporary nature linked to a seasonal exploitation of the rich natural resources available on the Sierra de Cantabria. We also know thanks to the microscopic study of the sediments that every now and again they used to burn the debris that had built up, probably to clean up the space that had been occupied and that this combustion process was carried out in line with some specific habits: they used to pile up the debris and on top of them pile up wood remains, perhaps to help to get the fire going before going on to burn the debris.”

See a report on the find here.

 

June 25, 1937: Execution of Basque poet Lauaxeta

On June 25, 1937, barely a year into the Spanish Civil War, the Basque poet Estepan Urkiaga, better known as Lauaxeta, having been convicted of sustaining “nationalist beliefs” by a military tribunal, was executed by firing squad as an enemy of the rebel forces led by General Franco. He was thirty-two years old.

 

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Estepan Urkiaga, “Lauaxeta” (1005-1937). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Lauaxeta had been a leading member of the Basque cultural renaissance, Euskal Pizkundea, in the 1930s. “He had,” as Lourdes Otaegi remarks in her chapter on Basque poetry in Basque Literary History, “the charisma of an iconoclast and embodied the most controversial facet of the renewal of Basque poetry with his work Bide Barrijak (New Paths, 1931).”

Shortly before being executed Lauaxeta wrote to a friend:

In a few hours I am to be executed. I die happy because I feel Jesus close to me and I love as never before the only homeland of the Basques. . . . When you think of me, who has loved you like a father, love Christ, be pure and chaste, love Euzkadi as your parents have done. Visit my poor mother and kiss her forehead. Farewell until heaven. I bless you a thousand times.

In That Old Bilbao Moon, Joseba Zulaika explores the significance of Lauaxeta, and explains how he was also another victim of the infamous bombing of Gernika in April 1937:

One of the victims of Gernika was “Lauaxeta”—the pen name of Estepan Urkiaga, a well-known poet working in Bilbao for Aguirre’s Basque government. The Gernika bombing was followed by a propaganda war in which Franco and the Germans claimed that the town had been bombed and burned by its Republican Basque defenders. It was Lauaxeta’s role to show evidence to the contrary to the international media. As he led a French journalist to the charred town, both men were arrested. The journalist was freed and Lauaxeta was executed. Before facing the firing squad at dawn, Lauaxeta spent the night writing a farewell poem to his country—“Agur, Euzkadi” (Goodbye, Euskadi), which concluded:

Let the spirit go to luminous heaven
Let the body be thrown to the dark earth.

In another poem, “Azken oyua” (The Last Howl), Lauaxeta wrote:

Oh Lord, please grant me this death;
Let the smell of the roses be for cowards.
Send me blessed freedom.

Lauxeta’s axiom and testament was his line “Everything must be given to the freedom we love.” Freedom was a political sacrament.

If you’d like to learn more about the life and work as well as influence of Lauaxeta, in addition to the abovementioned works, check out the following:

In The Basque Poetic Tradition, Gorka Aulestia devotes a chapter to the life and work of Lauaxeta. Meanwhile, the political dimension and legacy of Lauaxeta’s execution is discussed in Cameron J. Watson’s Basque Nationalism and Political Violence. And there is an interesting examination of film representations of Lauaxeta in Santiago de Pablo’s The Basque Nation On-Screen.

 

 

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