Category: Jon Bilbao Basque Library

The Comforts of Home: A Basque Sheep Camp

The Basque Library has set up a new exhibit at the Sparks Museum and Cultural Center.

From June 20 to August 10, 2017, The Comforts of Home: A Basque Sheep Camp showcases Dominique Laxalt’s sheep camp from Marlette Lake. Dominique purchased over a hundred acres of grazing lands high in the Sierras in the early part of the twentieth century, two thousand feet above the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe. Dominique herded sheep in the mountains above Carson City, Nevada, for decades, operating out of his base camp at Marlette. He took his sons with him and this made an indelible impression especially on Robert Laxalt, who later wrote of those experiences in Sweet Promised Land.

The materials from the camp were boxed up and in storage for decades. Upon the closing of the offices they were stored in, these items were found and donated to the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

Preparing a camp for themselves, the sheepherder had to be a jack-of-all-trades. Setting up the tent, hunting and fishing for food, cooking, and keeping track of supplies were the domestic side of their time outside tending the flock. All they had to survive on for many weeks at a time were the supplies they carried with them. Pack mules or horses carried the building blocks of creature comforts. As time went on, they would be resupplied by the ranch managers or owners. Early on this would be with other pack animals, then wagons, and finally trucks. Improvised fishing poles from branches, pot racks from belts, and improvised gadgets were all pressed into service. Not just double duty, many of the materials they carried had to be multifunctional.

Alone for weeks at a time, Basque sheepherders sometimes only had their horses, dogs, and sheep to talk and took to leaving tree carvings to express themselves. Aspen trees scarred up beautifully to leave a lingering glimpse into their thoughts. Women, animals, home, their names, and dates, all feature as themes in the carvings. This art emerged from solitude is wonderfully showcased by the Mountain Picasso: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin exhibit, also at the Sparks Museum. Sponsored by the Nevada Arts Commission and the Nevada Historical Society, this exhibit is curated by Jean and Phillip Earl, a couple that has been collecting tree carvings for 50 years.

On June 30,  the museum is holding a reception for the Basque exhibits on display. You are all invited to enjoy refreshments from 4 to 6 p.m.

Post by Shannon Sisco and Iñaki Arrieta Baro.

An update from Irati Urkitza, our Basque Library Intern

We here at the blog have decided to check up on Irati Urkitza, who you may have read about in a previous post. The following is an update from the Algortarra, who we are happy to have here at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library and at the Center for Basque Studies. She is doing a tremendous amount of work in the archive and it’s a pleasure seeing her every day.

Five months have passed since I landed in Reno and I couldn’t be happier! First off, this is my first experience related to working in archives so I had a lot to learn. When I arrived, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the archives and the materials in them. I couldn’t believe how interesting they are. I’ve found all kinds of documents, some dealing with exile, others with the first sheepherders in the West as well as boardinghouses, and the personal stories behind all of them. On example is the story of the migrant to Colombia “El Cojo” Gómez, who happened to be from my hometown, Algorta. He was a “good” smuggler in the sense that he told on “bad” people, even though he was murdered in retaliation for having killed three men. This is just one of the many stories hidden in the archives of the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

After the process of getting to know the materials, I received training from the library staff in various programs that I’ve been using to catalog archival documents. I think it’s wonderful that they spend time teaching new interns not just how to use the programs but also helping us throughout the way. I still have questions sometimes, but I think I’ve learned quite a bit.

One of the tasks I carry out here besides cataloging is working at the library by attending to visitors and students. It is also my first time working with the public in this way, and I think I’ve improved a lot since I first sat in front of the main desk. Most of the people who come are interested in learning what we do at this library as well as Basque culture and history. Others come because of their interest in their backgrounds, thinking they may have Basque ancestors. We also get a lot of students because our library is quieter than the main library.

We currently have a window exhibit on the bombing of Gernika that I helped to put together. Not only did I record one of the testimonies, that of Mercedes Irala, but I also helped to translate the texts and edit the video on display. The Gernika exhibit is just a small homage to this historic event, but I think it’s important for the diaspora to remember the events that marked our grandparent’s generation.

For now, I’m continuing to discover new treasures that were forgotten in the many boxes that comprise the archive. I’m trying to figure out what it is we have exactly and see if we can create new collections for cataloging. As you can see, I’m working hard and enjoying every minute of it.

Besides working at the library, I’ve had the chance to get to know Reno as well as its surroundings and people. For example, I spent a wonderful weekend at Black Rock Desert for the rendezvous organized by Friends of the Nevada Wilderness and Friends of BRD. I also had the chance to attend the Basque Picnic in Petaluma (CA), which was a way for me to take part in the Basque-American experience. I look forward to traveling more across the West.

Before I end this post, I just wanted to thank everyone at the Basque Library and in the Main Library for giving me this opportunity, especially Iñaki Arrieta-Baro, the Basque librarian, who has to deal with me every day and answer all of my questions. Mila esker!

An Interview with Beñat Dachaguer

As many of you know, we have quite a few visitors throughout the year. In this interview, we introduce you to Beñat Dachaguer, who is doing an internship at the library.

1) Tell me a bit about yourself…

My name is Beñat Dachaguer and I come from Bayonne in the French Basque Country. During this 2016-2017 school year, I am studying Books and Heritage Professions at Grenoble University. Before that, I taught English in high schools for 10 years.

2)    What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

For this training course in Books and Heritage Professions, I needed to do a 2-month internship in a library. I am very interested in Basque culture, language, and literature. I applied to the Basque Library and they accepted me as an intern for 2 months. I am here until June 30.

3)    What is the goal of your project?

The purpose of my stay at the Basque Library is to understand the procedures of the Basque Library in the framework of a North American research library. Thanks to this internship, I am also able to gain knowledge about the Library’s archival collections and the holdings in general.

4)    What makes your study unique?

I speak Basque as my mother tongue and as a fully-quaIified English teacher, I am also fluent in English. The internship allows me to learn more about the Basque diaspora and Basque-American identity. It is interesting to see how they manage to keep Basque culture and traditions alive.

5)    What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I enjoy the city of Reno. I think it is a lively and pleasant town where there are many things to do: restaurants, cinema, pubs, casinos…  and of course, I have gone to Louis’ Basque Corner, the Basque restaurant downtown and visited the National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder. I also went to Pyramid Lake, which I found beautiful!

6)  Has the Center for Basque Studies and Library helped you in any way?

The Center for Basque Studies has helped me a lot. There are many interesting documents about Basque culture and diaspora. I have to write a report about my stay at the Basque Library, so all the materials available are very useful to me. Besides, the colleagues (library staff, faculty, and Ph.D. students) are really nice. There is a good atmosphere in the library.

7)    Are you enjoying the U.S.?

I enjoy the USA, mainly the Western part. Nevada and California are states where there is a good life quality. I already went to Chino, near Los Angeles, 20 years ago and I have kept an excellent memory of my stay there! I am glad to be back in the USA.

8)    What have you missed the most since you’ve been here?

I haven’t really missed anything except one thing maybe … actually, in April and May, I usually have fun at Basque festivals like Nafarroaren Eguna in Baigorri or Herri Urrats in Senpere. But this year I was in Reno … so I couldn’t attend these 2 events. However, last weekend, I went to the Basque picnic in Bakersfield, California. It was like being at home, in the Basque Country…I even discovered two new drinks:  Madras and VO+sprite. Next weekend, I am going to visit San Francisco and attend the local Basque picnic there… the show must go on!

SFBC Annual Basque Picnic in Petaluma

Last Sunday, a few of us from the Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library made the trip out to Petaluma for the San Francisco Basque Club’s 57th Annual Picnic. After heading out rather early, we made it to the end of the mass given by Father Lastiri, with music by the Elgarrekin Choir and the Zazpiak Bat Klika, alongside dancing. The Petaluma Fair Grounds were packed, and finding a table was a difficult task. While the chefs prepared the barbecue, we enjoyed the warm weather and pleasant conversation. Even my own parents made it out!

As with all Basque events, food was plentiful. We dug into some cheese and other appetizers until the line formed to stack our plates with the wonderful food provided by the SFBC. The menu consisted of barbecued rack of lamb (cooked perfectly) with beans, piperade, salad, cheese, bread, and of course, wine. Every bite was delicious. After our dessert, we gathered around the court to watch the dancers.

Zazpiak Bat Dancers

First came the Zazpiak Bat Txiki dancers, who did a splendid job considering that this was the first year of dancing for most. The Los Banos group was represented by 3 young boys, who also had some great moves. Lastly, we watched the Zazpiak Bat Dance group dance elegantly. The Klika also partook in the jovial atmosphere. Overall, it was a great time.

As picnic and festival season begins, I hope to attend more events. It’s great to see Basque culture being carried on by the youth and the many Basques and Basque-Americans that come together to share food, fun, and merriment. Don’t forget, next week: Winnemucca’s Annual Festival!

Gernika: voices after the bombs

Gernika exhibit posterThe bombing of cities and civilians during wartime has been a constant in history almost since planes became war guns. On April 26, 1937, Gernika, the sacred city of the Basque people, was brutally attacked and destroyed by the Nazi Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force, acting under the command of the Spanish General Francisco Franco.  More than 2,000 people were killed.

The bombing of Gernika was one of the first actions of the Condor Legion, a real-life training ground for the Nazi’s Blitzkrieg warfare. The methods developed by this unit served as a model for the bombings by the Luftwaffe during World War II.

Eighty years after this event, with the screaming and cries of those being bombed all around the world on television and social media, the voices of those who witnessed the destruction of Gernika remind us that suffering is real.

The Jon Bilbao Basque Library is opening the exhibit Gernika: Voices after the Bombs. Its goal is precisely to give voice to whose who suffered the bombing and its aftermath. The exhibit comprises a selection of six witnesses testimonials about the pain experienced by Gernika’s inhabitants. These testimonials have been translated into English, audio-recorded, and complemented with a mural of pictures of the ruins of Gernika.

Gernika exhibit photograph wall

The exhibit has been developed by Xabier Irujo, from the Center for Basque Studies, and Iñaki Arrieta Baro and Shannon Sisco, both from the Basque Library. They had the support of Mikel Amuriza, Edurne Arostegui, Daniel Fergus, Jill Stockton, Kathleen Szawiola, Irati Urkitza-Ansoleaga, Kyle Weerheim, and Joseba Zulaika in translations, marketing, and multimedia development.

Opening today, you can visit Gernika: Voices after the Bombs until the end of October at the window exhibit case at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

Jon Bilbao Basque Library News

The Jon Bilbao Basque Library is experiencing an interesting period in its already long history. Since this time last year, the library’s staff has been working on a number of projects to better serve the Basques of North America, whether they are researchers or members of the public who are interested in Basque culture.

We are especially excited about the archival collections, composed of Basque-American family papers, research collections, and records of Basque clubs around the country. We are transferring all the information about these collections to a new management system that will greatly improve accessibility to them. Improving access to these materials will help researchers to better understand the historical development of the Basque-American community.

Helping to preserve the documentary heritage of the Basque Diaspora is one of our main goals. Are you in possession of any papers or documents relating to your Basque family? If this is the case, please consider using the Jon Bilbao Basque Library as a repository that will enable researchers and members of the community to learn more about your family’s Basque heritage. Please contact the Basque Librarian Iñaki Arrieta if you are interested in this opportunity (email: arrieta@unr.edu).

Photo credits: Jon Bilbao Basque Library

 

 

Spring 2017 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series

This semester, like almost every semester, the CBS is holding a Seminar Series. Here’s a round-up of the lectures given thus far and a sneak peak of the coming presentations!

Professor Douglass kicked off the series with his paper entitled “Basques in Cuba,” based on his research and the conference held in Havana in 2015 entitled “Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi.” Douglass shared many anecdotes and the audience responded with many questions, carrying on the discussion well after the hour had quickly gone by.

Next up, Saranda Frommold, a PhD candidate at the Freie Universität Berlin,  shared her dissertation findings on “The Political Relations between Mexico and Spain regarding Basque Exile to Mexico (1977-2000).” She has spent three weeks at the Center, continuing her research. The presentation was thought-provoking and also ended in a lively question and answer session. Stay tuned for our interview with Saranda. We will miss her at the CBS.

Last week, I presented a paper entitled “Memoirs of Mobility and Place: Portrayals of Basque-American Identity,” written for a literature class, so a little out of my historical comfort zone. I must say, it went well, and I was excited to recommend Mountain City, by Gregory Martin, to most of my audience. It’s definitely a good read! I compared Martin’s portrayal of Basque communities in the West to that in Sweet Promised Land, Robert Laxalt’s famed memoir.

Next week, March 29 from 12:30-1:30, our Basque Librarian, Iñaki Arrieta Baro, will be presenting on “Bertsolaritza: Kultur Artea Network.” This will be a nice addition to our showcase on Bertsolaritza. Be sure to come visit and see the exhibit!

April 5 is sure to be a busy lecture day. Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain, a PhD candidate here, will present on “Euzko-Gogoa: Gender and Nation,” as a part of her own dissertation research. Mikel Amuriza will then follow, giving a talk about tax systems. Mikel is a visiting scholar from the Diputación de Bizkaia, and will be with us for a few more months. We’ll be sure to post an interview soon!

Professor Ott will present on April 12, giving a talk on “German P.O.W.s in Post-War France,” part of her ongoing research on the topic. I’m sure it will be full of anecdotes and more!

Lastly, we have the pleasure to have Professor Boehm from the Anthropology department, as well as Women’s Studies and GRI, present on her recently published book. Her conference is entitled “Disappearance and Displacement in an Age of Deportation,” and I’m sure it will bring up many current events and a discussion of what is going on in the world around us.

Be sure to stop by from 12:30-1:30 on Wednesdays for our seminar series. Bring your own brown bag, sit back, and enjoy!

An Interview with Irati Urkitza, the New Basque Library Intern

The Jon Bilbao Basque Library recently welcomed a new intern, Irati Urkitza, who has arrived from Getxo (Bizkaia), a town neighboring Bilbao on the coast. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Master’s in Teacher Training from the University of the Basque Country, giving her the qualifications to teach high school philosophy. We took a moment to interview Irati so that we could introduce her to you, our readers. We look forward to having her around here at the center and library, as she is a welcome addition to our little community.

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies and how long will you be here?

I am here on a grant called Global Training, which is given by the Basque Government, and I will stay here for six months, until July.

Tell me a bit about the Global Training program

Every year some Basque organizations and entities, with the help of the Basque government, offer several internship programs in foreign companies. The aim of these programs is to give the intern an opportunity to get some work experience abroad and then to come back and somehow enrich the Basque Country in their new jobs.

How did you learn about the Center for Basque Studies and its Basque library?

While I was reading the list that the University of the Basque Country offered for the Global Training program, I saw the name of the Jon Bilbao Basque Library. It immediately caught my attention and I researched a little bit about it. I found it really interesting and I decided that it was the place that I wanted to go.

What are you working on at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library?

I will be mainly working in the archives with Iñaki Arrieta and Shannon Sisco. We want to transfer all the information about the Basque collection to a new management system that will improve the access to them, so anyone from the main library can have access to the information in the archives.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I have various interests, but most of them are related to social and cultural issues. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching films and TV shows, and taking walks or hiking.

Are you enjoying the U.S.?

Yes, although it is cold and dry, I am having a very good time here.

What are you looking forward to in your stay here in Reno and in the United States in general?

I am willing to learn more about American culture and about the Basques in the States. I would like to travel around to visit some other important places for the Basque diaspora and, certainly, I would love to travel to the wonderful National Parks you have here.

What have you missed the most since youve been here?

I have only been here for a week, so I haven’t had enough time to miss lots of things, but I believe that what I will miss the most will be my boyfriend, family and friends, and, of course, the food and the sea!