Category: Amerikanuak (page 1 of 5)

At Midnight: Book Review by William A. Douglass

A few years ago I was co-organizer in Havana of a conference that eventuated in the publication of the book entitled Basques in Cuba (2016).  My collaborator was a famed political exile and extraordinary figure in Basque letters, Joseba Sarrionandia. In addition to our conference we were working on an English-language translation of his poetry. That anthology is now completed and should be published within the next several months (our working title is “Prisons and Exiles”). But that is another story.

Joseba insisted at the time that I consider arranging for English translation and publication by the Center for Basque Studies a book entitled A medianoche by a Basque former priest Javier Arzuaga. I read it as a favor and was dumbfounded. Arzuaga was the priest of the parish that included La Cabaña fortress, presided over by Che and the site of show trials, brief imprisonment and then execution of certain officials in the army and government of Fulgencio Batista. For the first four months of the process, Arzuaga was permitted to accompany condemned men for the few hours before their extermination. He was present at fifty-five executions before suffering a nervous breakdown.

Arzuaga describes his encounters with Che and Fidel, as well as his own evolution as a supporter of the revolution to critic of it. He provides extraordinary human profiles of the revolutionary officials conducting the proceedings, as well as of several of the condemned men. Particularly riveting was his internal crisis of conscience, since Arzuaga had become estranged from the Catholic hierarchy (he eventually left the priesthood) and doubted the very message of redemption and an afterlife that he employed to console the doomed men.

As a 78-year-old writer in the twilight of a lengthy career, I cannot begin to estimate how many books I have read—certainly thousands. Yet I can say that none has been more disturbing or memorable than At Midnight.

Nevada Stories Series: Folklife Program Videos Online

A couple of months ago, I came across a few videos on the Nevada Arts Council website highlighting Basque culture in Nevada.

Nevada Stories is an online video series focusing on folk and traditional artists, specific local traditions, and Nevada’s landscape. An outreach activity of the NAC Folklife Program, it supports the Nevada Arts Council’s mission to provide folklife education to all age groups and to highlight the individual folk artists, traditional communities, and cultural sites that make Nevada distinctive. Filming and production are funded through Folk and Traditional Arts grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

I’ll share the Basque ones here, but be sure to check out the website for more on the many cultures that comprise Nevada!

The Basque Chef: Asier Garcia

Visitors to the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko (2018)–themed “Basques and Buckaroos”–saw firsthand that Basques know how to have fun! A popular social pastime in the Basque Country involves bar hopping while sampling the pintxo (pronounced “peen-show”) or bite-sized snack specialties of the house. Our guest chef Asier Garcia hails from Bizkaia and is now a resident of Boise. Asier leads a workshop group through the intricacies of creating a dozen different pintxos, deconstructing this artful tradition to enhance their culinary repertoires and satisfy their appetites.


Basque Cooking With Jean Flesher

Utah bandleader, contractor, Basque personality and cook Jean Flesher presents Basque cuisine in traditional fashion with a northern Basque country (French influenced) flavor. The workshop features classic dishes and cooking techniques. Participants learned new recipes (included in the video) and left with satisfied appetites and a full serving of Basque joi de vivre. This film was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and partnerships between the Western Folklife Center, Nevada’s Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and the Nevada Arts Council.

Hunting the Mountain Picassos

For more than half a century, Jean and Phillip Earl of Reno have used clues from old maps, letters, and books to hunt for and document “Mountain Picassos,” distinctive figures carved into aspen trees found in the high country meadows of the Great Basin. These figures– along with names, dates, and sayings– were carved by Basque sheepherders in the early to mid-20th century.

Euskal Jaiak: Celebrating Basque Culture – the 50th Annual National Basque Festival, Elko
For the last 50 years, Basque families from throughout the American West have gathered in Elko, Nevada on 4th of July weekend to celebrate their culture and the opportunities afforded them in the USA. Filmed over the three days of the 2013 National Basque Festival, “Euskal Jaiak: Celebrating Basque Culture” offers the viewer an all-embracing view of this multi-faceted event.

To learn more about Basque’s in Nevada, go to, Home Means Nevada 1896: Folklife in Nevada Historic Radio Series

Edurne Arrives Back to Bilbao and the Basque Country

Puerto Viejo, Algorta

Aupa everyone! I thought I’d check in and tell you about my adventures in the Basque Country while conducting my fieldwork for my dissertation. It’s good to be back! As some of you may know, I spent six years here before hopping across the pond again to Reno. My initial trip was for six months and, well, I guess I liked it a bit too much and got interested in Basque history and culture, leading me to complete my M.A. at the UPV/EHU and then two years at the same institution beginning my Ph.D. studies. So, I’m definitely acquainted with the place which makes my research explorations all the more easier.

I arrived mid-July and didn’t have much time to relax since I attended the 56th Annual International Americanists Congress at the University of Salamanca. There, I not only presented but spent time with my co-director, Óscar Álvarez Gila. We participated in different symposia but got a chance to catch up and talk about my plans. As usual, he motivated me and pushed me toward new directions. When it came to the symposium, I took part in “The Visible and Invisible: A Theoretical and Methodological Approach to the Unheard, Unspoken and Unseen in Gender Studies,” alongside sociologists and psychologists studying contemporary manifestations of gender studies. At first, after reading the schedule, I was hesitant: what was I, a historian focusing on the turn of the century and migration, doing on this panel? However, I was pleasantly surprised. We were a small group, so after presenting, we spent two hours chatting and discussing our work. The feedback I received was fantastic! Sometimes you get so into Basque studies (e.g. everything I see is Basque in some way or related in the most far-off way, I’m annoying like that…) you forget to widen your perspective. In all, it was a great way to start off my fieldwork and made contacts for the future.

Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

Next up, I visited a part of Gipuzkoa I’d never been to: Bergara, Antzuola, Zumarraga, and Legazpi. Spending time with an old friend of my mom, she and her brother told me about the connections they and others had with the States, especially Boise. We also stopped by the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Arantzazu. Beautiful and bewitching, I marveled at the architecture and views of the valley below. While on that trip, I embarked on a quest for a ceramic txakoli pitcher and cups for my dad. I ended up getting them made in Ollerias, where Blanka Gómez de Segura learned the fading technique from the last potter of the area. She has set up a museum and shop and gladly showed me around. Definitely worth visiting! I ended up buying a katilu of my own and had to resist myself in the shop.

Arantzazu

I’ve also visited Lekunberri (Nafarroa) a few times for various reasons. First of all, it’s cooler (in the sense of temperature) and there’s wonderful cheese everywhere (I’m a cheese addict). But from an academic standpoint, I’ve been put in contact with former sheepherders who have found a home there. Antonio, a neighbor, told me all about his experience in Fresno over a period of 40 years. I look forward to talking to him more in depth. I also became aware of a collection of letters preserved in Elantxobe from a sheepherder in Boise to his sister. The niece, Edurne (!), is willing to let me look through them and talk to me about her family and uncle. Besides, there will be lunch involved so two birds with one stone.

All work, no play…

Sheep! mmm…cheese!

Lastly, I attended the Artzai Eguna (Day of the Sheepherder) in Uharte-Arakil on August 26. Although I regret not taking advantage of my time very well while there (too busy trying cheese and cider), I got to see how cheese is made and specimens of the Latxa breed of sheep. The market was bustling, so my usual strategy of asking older men wearing baseball caps whether they’d been to the West didn’t seem appropriate (although it usually works).

Cheesemaking

Latxa Sheep

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but I also wanted to mention that I finally met my colleague on the blog, Katu, in person for the first time. It’s crazy to think you’ve worked with someone for so long, exchanged countless emails, talked on skype for hours, yet never been in the same room. Luckily, we’ll be working together on a project dealing with Basque rock music in the 80s, so there’s more to come.

I’ll be updating you, our loyal readers, throughout my stay. Leave a comment if you have any questions, tips, or suggestions for my fieldwork. Ondo izan.

September 8: Basque Diaspora Day

By Kate Camino, for Astero:

Basque Diaspora Day Approaches

Basque GovernmentAs you all may remember, the Basque Government designated September 8th as Diaspora Day last January. The date was chosen after receiving several suggestions from Basques around the world, and because it coincides with the first circumnavigation of the globe, in 1522, by a crew led by Juan Sebastian Elkano who was from Getaria, Gipuzkoa. The hope is, by designating a day dedicated to the Diaspora, activities organized would make the Basque presence around the world more visible. In this its first year, the Basque Government would like to know how your club or Basque community is going to mark this date. Lehendakari Urkullu will be holding his own event at the Lehendakaritza on September 8th where he’d like to share what’s happening around the world. If your Basque club or community is planning an event, please share it with us atinfo@nabasque.eus. If you haven’t planned anything yet, you still have time. This video sums it all up “The Basque Country lives in you.” Ondo ospatu!

 

 

 

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

Los Banos Euskara Success Story

Los Banos Euskara Success Story

By Kate Camino for Astero:

Los Banos Euskara

Christine Barbot EtchepareAitor Iñarra, NABO Euskera Coordinator, shared this letter with us from Christine Barbot Etchepare, Basque teacher in Los Banos, California.  Christine is one of the many individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts in an attempt to perpetuate the Basque language in our various Basque communities.  Christine’s audience is a little different though, because she is currently teaching children.  To learn more about what she does, click here.  If you are interested in learning Basque, click here to see if classes are being offered at a club near you.  On behalf of everyone at NABO, a heartfelt Eskerrik Asko to all of the teachers and students!

 

Kali Kester Winner of Carmelo Urza Scholarship

By Kate Camino for Astero:

Kali Kester

As reported earlier USAC and NABO excitedly partnered on the Carmelo Urza Scholarship for students to study abroad on either its Bilbao or Donostia programs. The first deadline to apply for the scholarship for those planning to study abroad in the fall, was April 1st. Now it is our pleasure and honor to announce that the winner of the first ever Carmelo Urza Scholarship is Kali Kester. Kali is from Battle Mountain, Nevada and a member of the OberenakBasque Club. She participated in Basque dance from the age of 5 on, and is now attending UNR pursuing a double major in Community Health Science and Spanish. Her plan is to spend the 2018-19 school year between Donostia in the fall and Alicante in the spring. She is excited about the prospect of becoming entirely immersed in both the Basque and Spanish cultures. Besides taking a full load of classes, she also hopes to become involved with a local Basque dance group there. In her words, “I am so incredibly honored to be receiving this scholarship because the Basque community and culture have been such an influential and important part of my life.” Zorionak Kali! Deadline to apply for the scholarship for Spring 2019 is November 1st. The application is available here.

Gaztemundu 2018 Applications Now Available!

By Kate Camino for Astero:

Gaztemundu 2018

The Resolution for Gaztemundu 2018, was published this week in the Official Bulletin of the Basque Country. This publication triggers the application period for the program that will run September 1-16, 2018 in Vitoria-Gasteiz aimed at individuals between the ages of 18-35 from officially recognized Basque clubs around the world. This year’s Gaztemundu will focus on traditional Basque dance. Eligible applicants will have knowledge of dance instruction and Basque dance, will be of age by January 1, 2018, and will not have participated in a prior edition of Gaztemundu since 2003. See basic requirements here. Applications require submitting a video recording of dance instruction to determine the capability of the individual to interpret, as well as explain the significance of a chosen dance. The jury will also take into consideration other points that are included in this article found on EuskalKultura.com. The deadline to apply is June 18th, and the Resolution is available herein both Basque and Spanish. For clarifications in English, please email: Iñigo Medina. Iñigo recently arrived at the Center for Basque Studies in Reno and will be carrying out a Basque Government internship, from the Directorate for Basque Communities Abroad, through January 2019. Iñigo has a wonderful command of the English language and so for questions about Gaztemundu, or any other Basque Government related issue, feel free to contact him. On behalf of everyone at NABO, we would like to extend a very warm welcome to Iñigo!

Carmelo Urza Scholarship

By Kate Camino for Astero:

USAC and NABO are excited to partner on the Carmelo Urza Scholarship for study abroad in the Basque Country. Dr. Carmelo Urza, founder and CEO Emeritus of USAC (University Studies Abroad Consortium), credits inspiration gathered from NABO and its member organizations, in helping him create USAC. As such, a new $2,000 Scholarship is now available exclusively to students who are NABO members, or whose parents are NABO members, and are attending the USAC Bilbao or San Sebastian, Spain study abroad program during either fall or spring semester. Eligible students must have a 3.2 GPA or above, and the deadline to apply is April 1, 2018 for Fall 2018, and November 1, 2018 for Spring 2019. Complete information is available online at usac.edu/scholarships#urza and students are encouraged to contact scholarships@usac.eduwith any questions.

Echevarria, by Gretchen Skivington

From the Center for Basque Studies Books Newsletter:

The Center is proud to launch Echevarria, a novel in which dialogue is central, and to participate in the celebration of bertsolaritza at this year’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. In that spirit, here are some more things you may be interested in!

Much of what it means to be human is revealed through language and the spoken word predates its written counterpart by millennia. Indeed, whether we realize it or not, oral culture is at the very heart of the Western cultural legacy with the Homeric epics—the earliest works of Western literature—ostensibly oral in nature. Orality pervades Basque culture to this day and the Center’s publications reflect this fascinating dimension of the Basque experience in general. Voicing the Moment: Improvised Oral Poetry and Basque Tradition, edited by Samuel G. Armistead and Joseba Zulaika, is, to date, the most detailed study in English of the specifically Basque phenomenon of bertsolaritza–“versifying” or improvised oral poetry that is sung in different formal and informal contexts–and how this art form is part of the global oral tradition of verse. Likewise, Part I of Basque Literary History, edited and with a preface by Mari Jose Olaziregi, is devoted to oral literature, with chapters on the current state of orality as a literary form and the history of bertsolaritza. And beyond those works that specifically address Basque oral culture, it is interesting to note just how deep orality runs in the Basque storytelling tradition, whether it be in the form of tales from the Old Country as transcribed and discussed in Wentworth Webster’s charming Basque Legends, or the New World recollections of Joan Errea in her compelling autobiographical accounts of growing up in a Basque household rural Nevada: My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. And what better platform to reflect the influence of the oral culture storytelling craft than in literature for children and young adults? Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees by Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton, is a whimsical story about the adventures of a five-year-old girl, Maite Echeto, her beloved friend Oui Oui Oui, a goslin. Meanwhile, renowned Basque author Bernardo Atxaga’s Two Basque Stories includes two tales framed around the relationship between grandfathers and grandsons that clearly reflect this oral storytelling tradition. Finally, for many examples of early bertsoak from the West, check out Asun Garikano’s Far Western Basque Country!

Echevarria is a new house, a new world, etxe (house) berria (new). It tells one hundred years of solitude and family history in Elko, Nevada and the Basque diaspora. The new family in the West is the necessary and awkward melding of Basque, Mexican, Chinese and Anglo settlers on the frontier. The human family is eternal and inviolable and there is only one story to tell—the intersection of young boy and young girl and the eternity of love. Death is its companion. And at the center of their journey is Echevarria—the Basque hotel.

$20.00
ISBN 978-1-935709-90-9
SHOP HERE

Older posts