Category: CBS (page 1 of 11)

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.

ISBN 978-1-935709-90-9

Running with Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro and the Basque Love in Reno

Not only in honor of Valentine’s Day, but to show some love from the Center of Basque Studies, one of our new visitor’s, Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro, decided he would brave the cold weather this last weekend to benefit a local korrika -the Reno Run 4 Love.  Iñaki and I decided to partake in this run that benefited Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada and St. Vincent’s this last Sunday morning.  It was brisk weather to say the least, but with chocolate and champagne waiting for us at the end of the race, we were able to finish strong.

Here is some information about our new arrival from the Basque Country and some good memories already made from before, during, and after our race:

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you are here:

I am Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro, graduate in History from the University of the Basque Country. After the degree, like many other history students, I decided to do a Master’s in Secondary Education, which is necessary to be able to work as a high school teacher. After finishing this first M.A., I decided to do a second in Contemporary History. All three of my degrees were earned through the University of the Basque Country. I have gone through all three campuses of this university, but if I had to choose, I would stay with Araba’s (Vitoria-Gasteiz) campus, to which I keep a special affection and in which I made great friends.

After finishing this second Master’s degree, I had to decide if I wanted to start as a high school teacher, or if I wanted to do a PhD. I decided to start with a PhD., and in January 2015, the University of The Basque Country granted me with a pre-doctoral contract for the realization of my research. I am in the last year of my PhD program, and hope to present my thesis titled, “The labor crisis and employment policies during the Second Republic: The case of public works in Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba”, around mid-December.

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

Currently (January 31-April 30), I am doing an international stay at the Center for Basque Studies, at the University of Nevada, Reno where I have coincided with some great PhD students. During the stay at the Center, I will make a comparative analysis between New Deal policies and the employment policies initiated by both the city and provincial councils of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, and Araba.

What are some of your hobbies, or things you like to do in your free time?

I will say that my hobbies are mountain climbing, running and reading a good novel (quite typical). Not forgetting to be with friends and people whose company I enjoy. I suppose I will also have to include History among my hobbies.

It’s great to have your energy and enthusiasm here at the Center for Basque Studies, Iñaki (and as a running partner!)  Ongi etorri!




Basque culture, Basque books, and bertsoak bloom in Elko at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The Center’s booth at the Western Mercantile

It was our pleasure here at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies to be invited to participate in the 34th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held annually in Elko, Nevada. This year’s festival was focused on the contributions of Basques in the West and included sessions on Basque arborglyphs, Basque poetry, Basque writing, the experience of Basques in ranching—featuring the insight of longtime Nevada resident and stalwart of Winnemucca’s Basque community, Frank Bidart—only 95 years young!

Portrait of beloved Basque sheepherder and owner—and shepherd of generations of 4-H sheep program participants in the Reno area—Abel Mendeguia, by Linda Dufurrena, on display in the Western Folklife Center

One of the highlights of the whole show was the participation of berstolariak, especially those from the Basque Country including reigning champion Maialen Lujanbio, as well as Oihana Iguaran Barandiaran and Miren Artetxe! The Basque bertsolariak were also accompanied by US Basque improvisers Jesus Goñi from Reno and Martin Goicoechea from Rock Springs, Wyoming. From Buffalo, Wyoming, Center author and musician David Romtvedt participated in many musical venues playing generally with his daughter Caitlin, and they were also a common sight to be seen playing after hours, usually in the company of Ardi Baltza accordionist Anamarie Lopategui. Basque-American author and Elko native Vince Juaristi was also in attendance with his stories of growing up Basque in the US. There were also dance performances by Elko’s Ardi Baltza and Elko Ariñak dancers, the latter being accompanied by Mercedes Mendive and Melodikoa. Popular Basque musical group Amerikanuak played, led by Jean Flesher from Salt Lake City, a true pioneer of Basque culture in the US (as many of the people mentioned here are), with members from as far away as Berlin, Germany in attendance! The Basque show on Thursday night was hosted by the Center’s own Kate Camino. Center friend and author Joxe Mallea presented on aspen carvings and artist Zoe Bray painted portraits of Basques and presented her portraits at the Western Folklife Center. The session on Basque writing featured the readings from My Mama Marie by Joan Errea, Florence Larraneta Frye, David Romtvedt, who read from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space and Elko’s own Gretchen Skivington who presented on and read from her brand new novel Echevarria. And I’m sure I’m forgetting someone or many people, the numbers of Basque participants was truly a wonder to behold.

The Center also participated in the show’s vendors with stand in the Western Mercantile. After hours, the Basque party continued at Elko’s Ogi Deli and the Star Hotel!

We have come a long ways from when cowboys and sheepherders fought range wars in this same part of northern Nevada. It was such a pleasure to be included and for Basque contributions to be recognized by all the cowpunchers! 😉

Graduate Student Plans Spring 2018

Check out what our grad students are up to during Spring 2018! Seems like a busy semester!

Ziortza Gandarias

My last semester at the CBS is coming to an end and it is a bittersweet sensation. I am so excited to be presenting my PhD thesis, the project I have been working so hard on. But at the same time I am sad to say goodbye to what it was my life and my home for the last four years. Nevertheless, before that happens I still have some exciting months full of interesting events showing up on the horizon.

Although the semester will be centered mainly on the writing process, I will have a couple of conferences between March and April. I will be presenting a paper in Boise this coming March in the “Memory and Emotion, Women’s Stories: Constructing Meaning from Memory”a conference organized by the world literature department at Boise State University.  I will also be presenting a poster in the “Northern Nevada Diversity: Challenges, Changes, and Solutions: The Reality of Equity and Diversity within Higher Education and the Community”.

Besides my academic projects, I will hopefully be able to enjoy a few days of  hiking and movie dates to keep me motivated and ready to defend my thesis.  Wish me luck!

Edurne Arostegui

This semester will be a wild one indeed. I am happy to have the opportunity to teach “War, Occupation, and Memory in the Basque Borderlands” this term, and even more happy about the number of students enrolled and their interest in the material! Getting to teach reminds me of the reason I’m here: I want to be a professor and love teaching! However, I have other responsibilities to attend to. I’m taking two courses this semester, “History of Women in the United States” and an independent study with Dr. Dworkin at the History department on “Cultural Theory and History.” Luckily, these two courses will keep me on track for my comprehensive exams, which I will be taking at the end of April.

I have a few conferences ahead this semester as well. First off, I’ll be going to Boise for BSU’s Department of World Languages’ “Memory and Emotion. Women’s Stories: Constructing Meaning from Memory” conference this March. I’ll be presenting a paper entitled “Basque Women in the West: Bringing Migrants out of the Shadows,” which will review the historiography on the subject and avenues for further research. In April, I will travel to Santa Barbara for UCSB’s “Verbal Kaleidoscope: First Annual Writers and Scholars in Indigenous Languages and Literatures Conference.” There, I will present a completely different paper entitled “Basque Nationalism with a Punk Voice: The Use of Euskara in Basque Radikal Rock,” a side-project of mine dealing with the renegotiation of Basqueness through musical movements. Later in the summer, I will be traveling to the Basque Country for my field work, and have two conferences lined up: one in Salamanca and the other in Gran Canaria.

My paper “Memoirs of Mobility and Place: Portrayals of Basque-American Identity in Literature of Nevada” has been published in the upcoming book Artes y Diaspora, by Eusko Ikaskuntza. I will also be writing another article on “Gendering the American West” for an edition being published on “América y la emigración Vasca. Procesos de investigación.” Overall, this will be an exciting semester, full of hard work, writing, and research.

Kerri Lesh

This semester I have returned to the Center for Basque Studies and started writing my dissertation after having completed a year of fieldwork in the Basque Country. I am also working as editor to turn the panel I organized for the 116th American Anthropological Association into a special edition for a journal with my fellow panelists. I will attend a conference in March titled “Memory and Emotion, Women’s Stories: Constructing Meaning from Memory”, and am preparing a panel for the Association for the Study of Food and Society conference this summer. Last year was one of the most exciting years on the books, but I look forward to finding more insight into my research as I continue with the writing process and complete my dissertation at the end of this year.

Marsha Hunter

This semester, in addition to a Basque Culture class, with Dr. Irujo’s guidance, I have expanded my coursework to include a Political Science class. Politics is a main area in the development of my thesis and additional courses in this department will be taken over the next several semesters. In addition to class, I plan to travel to Boise for archival research at the Basque Museum and Idaho Historical Museum. Eskerrik asko!

Horohito Norhatan

During the spring 2018 semester, I am teaching PSC 211 “Introduction to Comparative Politics.” In addition, I look forward to defending my dissertation on April 2018. This semester, I am also applying to PhD program in several universities including UNR. My research interests lie in the areas of community economic development, cooperative movement, sustainable development, comparative politics, and international relations. I have dedicated much of my time and energy to refine my understanding of the cooperative concept and its socio-economic potential through my ongoing research agenda at the University of Nevada.



We are doing exciting things indeed! If you’d like to be part of our lively international cohort, apply for the Basque Tutorial Ph.D. today!

The Tutorial Ph.D. in Basque Studies provides students in the humanities and social sciences with an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies through course work and research for the dissertation. Applicants should hold a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline. For more information, see:



Women Bertsolari: From the First Attempts to the Current Achievements

The bertsolaritza or Basque improvised poetry is one of the most intimate practices of the Basque language, where poets improvise and sing a song around a concept provided by the audience, following a set of rules about rhyme, meter and melody. For this reason, bertsolaris are some of the greatest masters of the Basque language. Until recently, however, the bertsolaritza was a strictly male domain. The village frontons, squares, and the National Improvised Poetry Competition featured men only, until a few brave female pioneers emerged to reclaim the voices of women in traditional culture.

In traditional Basque society, the fronton or village square was the public stage for the inculcation of values, the performance of identities, the practice of social control, and the negotiation of power. The main protagonists of the fronton were men: men playing pelota, men singing bertsos.

“How do you remember your great jump into the town square?” one of those female pioneers, Maialen Lujanbio was asked in an interview in 2009 for the journal Oral Tradition, after she became the first ever female txapeldun or champion of improvised poetry. “I started to be known by everyone,” she answered. “Because they put us… where we didn’t`t belong.” Women’s great jump into the town square, into the public sphere of frontons, sport halls and stadiums, is a powerful metaphor for access in a society where such arenas had been reserved for men.

Maialen Lujanbio sings the winning bertso at the 2017 National Championship:

The CBS Seminar Series featured the bertsolari and PhD student Miren Artetxe Sarasola, who talked about the most important landmarks of this journey in her lecture titled “Women bertsolari: From the first attempts to the current achievements.” Miren defined those landmarks in terms of Pathfinders, i.e. the first women poets who affected a breakthrough in a male realm; Networks, or the organizations created by and for female performers; Theorization, or the academic study of this new cultural development within the broader currents of Basque feminism; and Spaces of Empowerment, where female bertsolaris may find encouragement and inspiration for singing bertsos. The main achievements of the past ten years, Miren argues, is that a different consciousness is emerging around bertsolaritza: new themes and contents emerge through women’s participation, creating a more inclusive cultural sphere that also features women’s worlds and experiences.

Following the lecture, three bertsolaris, Miren Artetxe Sarasola, Maialen Lujanbio and Jesus Goñi sang bertsos at the Center for Basque Studies before a crowd of faculty, students, friends and family. The performances were followed by a potluck snack at the CBS, and a poteo in Louis Basque Corner in downtown Reno.



Urte berri on! The CBS is back for Spring 2018

After taking a few weeks off during the holiday season, the Center for Basque Studies Blog is back, and so are the faculty, staff, and students at UNR. It is bound to be a busy semester, as usual, but we’ll be here to provide you with unique stories on Basque culture and news from around the world.

When it comes to the CBS, Dr. Vaczi will be teaching “Basque Culture” while I will be embarking on my first teaching experience at UNR, trying to live up to Dr. Ott’s “War, Judgment, and Memory in the Basque Borderlands” course.  And, of course, Kate Camino will continue teaching Basque language courses. Horohito Norhatan will also be teaching, but in the Political Science department. Sorte on to us all!

In grad student news, Horohito and Ziortza Gandarias will be defending their dissertations in just a few months. Time does fly! Kerri Lesh is back from her year of field work, and Marsha Hunter continues in her second semester at the Center.

In the following weeks, we will hear more from all of us at the CBS, and look forward to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko in just a few weeks. Stay tuned!

CBS and Basque Library Win Prestigious Award

Today we are proud to announce that the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library have been awarded the Euskararen Nazioarteko Eguna Saria (Euskara International Day Award) by Eusko Ikaskuntza-Basque Studies Society.

In its remarks, the jury stressed our hard work and accomplishments during the last 50 years to raise awareness of the Basque language and culture in North American academia.

The staff of the Center and the Basque Library would like to extend our gratitude to Eusko Ikaskuntza. This award will motivate us to continue our work for another 50 years and beyond.

Check the news at:


Photo credit: Josu Zubizarreta

“Revitalizing Indigenous Languages” Lecture by Dr.Jon Reyhner at the CBS


Jon Rehyner bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

Dr. Jon Reyhner

Last Tuesday, November 21, we welcomed to the Center for Basque Studies Dr. Jon Reyhner. Dr. Reyhner is a Professor of Education and coordinator for the bilingual multicultural education program at  Northern Arizona University.

His interesting and passionate lecture was focused on the importance of revitalizing Indigenous languages in the United States. According to his discussion, revitalizing Indigenous languages is necessary to heal the wounds of colonialism, to improve student’s behavior, as well as improve academic success. Language is the most important tool for cultural identity and memory and gives the ability to preserve one’s heritage while also allowing one to assimilate with other cultures without alienation or loss of one’s uniqueness.

Language can also bring together multiple generations and allows one to feel connected to their roots and ancestors.  Dr. Reyhner had multiple interesting accounts of his time as a teacher working with Indigenous languages.  From his own perspective and life experiences, he discussed the struggles and triumphs of these various programs promoting bilingual education.

This presentation was extremely interesting and very relevant for us at the Center for Basque Studies.  Minority languages although at times have difficulty surviving, individuals such as Dr. Reyhner and others continue to strive and dedicate their time and hard work to their preservation and growth.

Thank you so much for your time and presentation, Dr. Reyhner!  

Eskerrik asko!

Dr.Reyhner at the Center for Basque Studies. Photo by Inaki Arrieta Baro, Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

If you are interested in some of his writings you might enjoy reading Language Rights and Cultural Diversity. This book analyzes the official status of many minority languages, as well as their cultural, political, and legal situation, showing the worldwide linguistic diversity and cultural richness.

Grad Student News: Edurne Arostegui


Last time we checked in on me,  I was finishing up my first semester at UNR. During the spring, I went to the East Coast with Amaia Iraizoz, presenting at the Southern American Studies conference, as well as visiting with the diaspora in Washington D.C. and New York City. Later that month, I presented at the Northern Nevada Diversity Summit and gave a passionate speech for the Unity in Diversity event held by UNR’s GSA. My article, “Memoirs of Mobility and Place: Portrayals of Basque-American Identity in Literature of Nevada,” was published at the end of October by Eusko Ikaskuntza in the new book on Art and Diaspora.

After getting through the year at the CBS, I spent the summer working for the Center for Basque Studies Books, translating new entries for the upcoming edition of Basques in the United States. This semester, I’m still  coordinating the blog as well as the seminar series, having lectured in September on “Basque Women in the West: Bringing Migrants out of the Shadows.” I have also been a guest lecturer in Dr. Vaczi’s classes and am TAing for Dr. Ott’s “Basque Culture” class, focusing on diaspora. UNR also piloted a new program for grad students, ACUE’s Effective Teaching Practices, and I got the chance to participate, finishing up the course this week.

Much of my time has also been spent organizing the WSFH conference with Dr. Ott. After having attended many conferences, I finally realized the work that goes into it, but it was well worth the effort. Speaking of conferences, I’m organizing my schedule for next year, which is looking hectic. However, Dr. Ott has given me the chance to teach “War, Occupation, and Memory” next semester, so I’m looking forward to teaching.

Time flies during doctoral studies, but I’m  taking advantage of every moment I can get!

Grad Student News: Horohito Norhatan

Horohito Norhatan is a graduate student at the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno. Throughout his research, he has had the opportunity to investigate the impact of the cooperative business model on poverty eradication and job creation in the Basque region.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, he taught PSC 211, “Introduction to Comparative Politics.” He plans to teach courses including International Relations, Basque Political Systems, and Basque Cooperativism during the upcoming academic year.

During his tenure as a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, Horohito has taken deliberate action to perfect his research by submitting academic papers and participating in academic conferences pertaining to his research topic. He has participated in several CLAGS (College of Liberal Arts Graduate Symposium) on economic development and cooperation. As a concrete accumulation of his research experience, he has also submitted several manuscripts to major scholarly journals including Economic and Industrial Democracy, the Community Development Journal, Economy Society, the Journal of Co-operative Organization and Management, and the Journal of Comparative Economics.

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