By Marsha Hunter
In 1997, Liz Hardesty began a three-year project to identify about 120 Basques that rest without grave markers in the St. John’s Section at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Idaho. Dorothy Bicandi Aldecoa generously provided the funds to install markers for those who Liz and her team identified. In addition, Mrs. Aldecoa provided a plaque to honor those Basques known to be buried at Morris Hill, but who didn’t have specific burial plot information. The monument bears the names of those not yet located, with the statement: “You are not forgotten.” Twenty years later, Basques in Boise, such as Meggan Laxalt Mackey continue the quest with Ahaztu Barik, Phase Three of the Hardesty-Aldecoa project. Ahaztu Barik promotes the lives and memories of those Basques whose burial sites are confirmed, with more detailed information, which may include Basque Country birthplaces, parents, death dates, causes of death in America, and plot locations.
Basque eguzkilore symbols marked the gravesites of 59 persons confirmed by the Ahaztu Barik project.
According to Meggan, we have now confirmed 59 Basque burial sites, marked and verified. There are still another 60+ whose burial locations have not been found and there are little to no records on these people. However, we did find four persons who were originally identified as Basque but were not – they were mostly from Italy or Mexico. This information will be accessible soon on a special webpage that will be linked to the Boise Basque Museum’s new website. Meggan hopes that their work will encourage other western communities with Basque populations to do the same.
A memorial ceremony was held earlier this summer. Here are a few photos from the event. Keep up the good work!
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Basque Government director of Communities Abroad Gorka Aramburu, Aita (Father) Antton Egiguren, and the Ahaztu Barik team (Celeste Landa, Meggan Laxalt, and John Ysursa) remember Basque ancestors at the St. John’s section at Morris Hill Cemetery July 28, 2017.
Ahaztu Barik burials will be accessed online through a dedicated website at the Basque Museum & Cultural Center for searches by name, burial plot, and death date, which prompts the viewer to gain more information if it was confirmed (birth date, birthplace, parent names, cause of death).
Boise’s Biotzetik Basque Choir sang for the memorial ceremony at the Morris Hill Cemetery.
Information provided by Meggan Laxalt Mackey.
This ancestral project is sponsored by the Basque Government, Office for the Basque Community Abroad; Boise State University’s Basque Global Collaborative; and the Basque Museum & Cultural Center.