Category: Reno (page 1 of 2)

Meet visiting researcher Aitziber Etxebarria Usategi from the Government of Bizkaia

The Government of Bizkaia has an collaboration agreement with the University of Nevada in order to promote, and research about the Basque Economic Agreement and its relationship with the current federal tax system in the United States. This year, Aitziber has been selected to do this research. Aitziber works for the Government of Bizkaia as an expert in tax collection. She has been working there for 15 years doing different jobs, all of them always connected with taxes. Aitziber aims to compare US estate, inheritance and gift taxes with their Basque equivalent in the light of the differences between the two countries. She plans to write an article about her research in Nevada, to be published with seven other chapters in a book edited by the Center for Basque Studies next year.

 Aitziber arrived on the 26th of February, and is leaving on the 24th of May.

All I can say is that I’ve met very friendly people who gave me a great welcome and that I’m very happy to be here. I’m having a great time in Reno! These weeks I’ve been getting to know Reno. I’ve explored, among other places, the downtown area, the casinos, and Rancho San Rafael Park. I’ve been advised to go visit Pyramid Lake, Black Rock Desert, Virginia City and, of course, Tahoe Lake. I’m also planning a trip to Napa Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. They are going to be very busy days!

What I like the most of Reno is its light. It is very sunny and that light makes everything look magical. People are very friendly as well. They don’t mind being asked for help and they are always very kind and helpful. It’s a good place to live!
Ongi etorri Aitziber!

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!




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:



Apply Now! Graduate Assistantships for the Ph.D. in Basque Studies

The Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, has two Graduate Assistantships available from the Fall of 2018 and seeks to recruit two well-qualified graduate students for its Tutorial Ph.D. program. Spread the word, or apply today!

The Tutorial Ph.D. in Basque Studies provides students in the humanities and social sciences with an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies about one of the western world’s most intriguing people, the Basques, through course work and research for the dissertation. Applicants should hold a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline.

Program at a glance

Admissions cycle: Fall, Spring
Application deadlines: April 15, Nov. 1
Assistantship types available: Graduate
Director of Graduate Studies: Sandra Ott (D.Phil.)

Why choose this Ph.D. in Basque Studies?

The Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno is the leading academic and research institution for Basque Studies in the United States. The University library has one of the world’s largest collections of Basque-related materials outside of Basque Country, currently at 55,000 volumes. The Center’s four full-time faculty undertake original research in a range of disciplines and participate in international and national networks of scholarship.

Graduates receive a Doctor of Philosophy in Basque Studies with an emphasis on one of the following fields:

Consequently, the degree is in Basque Studies and the student’s transcript will list a major area of study, such as Basque Studies (Anthropology), Basque Studies (History) and so on.

The Tutorial Ph.D. program offers a unique opportunity for the right student. The program suits students who have clear goals and are willing to assume responsibility for formulating, presenting and justifying a program of study and dissertation topic. The center highly recommends that potential applicants contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Sandra Ott (, to discuss their proposed research and verify that a mentor will be available for their topic.

How do I apply?

Go to Applicants must meet the admissions standards of the UNR Graduate School and submit the following materials online as part of the application:

  • A Statement of Purpose, including a preliminary proposal for doctoral research
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation (to be provided directly to the Center by the referees)

The program supports admissions in both the fall and spring semesters. The application deadline for fall admission is April 15. The application deadline for spring is Nov. 1.

Is funding available?

The Center for Basque Studies has four, four-year graduate assistantships that are awarded on a competitive basis. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies (775-682-5573, for further details.

What’s next?

You can apply now if you are ready to begin at the University. To learn more about the Tutorial Ph.D. in Basque Studies, visit the Center’s website or contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information.





Rakel Ezpeleta: Visiting Scholar

Late this summer, we had the pleasure of hosting Rakel Ezpeleta, a visiting scholar from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She is an actress and singer born in Vitoria-Gastiez and based in Barcelona since 2001. She has a BA with Honors in History of Art from University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and an MA in Performance Studies from Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and Theatre Institut (IT).

For several years she has combined professional work as performer with theoretical or academic research projects: In 2007 and 2009 she was awarded grants from KREA Expresión Contemporánea to conduct a study on contemporary Basque theatre history in relation to postmodern theory; during the 2012-13 academic year, she was a Research Assistant to Dr. Henry Daniel (Simon Fraser University-Vancouver) for research/creation Project Barca: New architectures of Memory and Identity. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre Studies at UAB with a trans-disciplinary project about Identity Configuration in Contemporary Experimental Basque Theatre. Her project conflates historical, anthropological and sociological approaches to contemporary theatre in Basque Country, a case study of some current mise-en-scènes, and her own artistic practice.

Rakel started studying theatre at the age of 13 in her hometown in Basque Country and she started working as a singer and actress when she was 17. After having lived in Long Island (NY) and Paris (France), she moved to Barcelona in 2002 for artistic specialist training in Musical Comedy and Meisner Technique. Since then she has launched several performing projects such as Plataforma l’Específica, Bacaret, Quasi (Maine), Pau?, La Quadra Màgica, and Confussion and Funkytown bands. Meanwhile, she has also collaborated in many short and long films, commercials and music recordings, as an actress, as a singer, and with voice-overs.

She enjoys traveling and discovering other cultures and people. Luckily for her, she has performed in many places in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Buenos Aires and Vancouver. Her latest research/creation, Erbeste (so very eager to please), has brought her to many cities and towns in Basque Country, Catalonia, and Spain, and she is willing to also bring her work to the USA.

Without further ado, here’s our interview with Rakel:

1. What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies and UNR? 

I was here for 5 weeks conducting one part of my current Ph.D. research. I wish I could have stayed longer. I really appreciated my time there! My thesis project is entitled “Identity Configuration in the Contemporary Experimental Basque Theatre Scene” (“Configuración de la identidad en la escena experimental vasca actual”). It investigates performance practice in relation to identity and contemporaneity within the Basque Country’s community during the period between 2000 and 2015. The research, on the one hand, provides a foundation for the analysis and history of contemporary Basque theatre, and, at the same time, establishes a methodological framework that is responsive to the nature of these practices and the context in which they operate.

I came to the CBS mainly to meet Joseba Zulaika and to work with him on contrasting some conceptual aspects of my research, i. e. the anthropological perspective of “contemporaneity”, the anthropological approach to “identity” and to performance, and the contemporizing of tradition.

2. What is the goal of your research?

I aim to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in two ways: first, by offering a contextualized and analytic overview of the scenic reality of Basque Country in the 21st century. Bibliography on contemporary Basque theatre is scarce and there are no thoughtful studies on the analysis of experimental staging and the correlation between these stagings and the socio-cultural context in which they are produced. Secondly, I aim to contribute to the development of methodologies for interdisciplinary and artistic research by virtue of a procedural structure specifically created to adequate this vibrant subject. The strategy to achieve these goals consists of a multi-disciplinary methodology that conflates a historical base, a sociological/anthropological approach, an analysis of significant theatre works, and my own artistic practice created to, first, explore a staging of a specific identity, and, second, test the perception of this Identity and its staging among various audiences.

3. What makes your research unique?

The transdisciplinary methodological approach, which I am creating specifically for this project, attending to the particularities of the subject. And the subject itself, in my opinion, of course, is thought-provoking and exciting, since it deals both with past and present, and both with cultural and subjective identities.

4. What did you accomplish?

I wrote the first chapter of my dissertation here and I discussed it with Prof. Zulaika. He gave me good pieces of advice on how to continue my dissertation, on the specific issues that I could approach, some references… He encouraged me to follow my natural-previous inclinations and to put more of my professional experience as a performer within my dissertation. He was very helpful and very encouraging. I am thankful for that. I also found and read some books that will be very helpful for my work. It was good to meet other researchers who were temporarily staying here and share and interchange information with them. I got to reconnect with a former teacher of mine, Prof. De Pablo, and find out that one of his books can inform my dissertation. Besides, I gave a seminar about the theme of my research. I had to write in English an overall view of my advances, and that helped me realize how much I had already accomplished. Finally, I additionally had the chance to participate in a seminar about the current political situation in Catalonia. This is not related to my thesis project but it’s certainly of great interest to me, and it is very much related the questions of identity and performativity.

5. Did the Center for Basque Studies help you in any way?

Definitively. Everyone was kind and helpful, both in personal and academic matters. For instance, thanks to Iñaki Arrieta Baro, director of the library, I am now in contact with the Publication Service of UPV/EHU, which is interested in publishing my previous research essay; Edurne Arostegi helped me a lot by reviewing my English writing; Kate Camino is helping me try to bring my theatre work “Erbeste”, a research/creation done as part of my thesis project, to UNR next year, and Xabier is also willing to help with that; Shannon gave me great tips for my trip to San Francisco; Amaia did so too for our trip to Yosemite; Xabier offered his camp tent; he and Iñaki offered to drive me home or to the supermarket; we went out to have a drink a couple of times with Amaia and Edurne… They are all great companions and it was fantastic to meet them.

6. Did you enjoy U.S.? What about Reno!?

I did! I enjoyed my stay in here very much. I was lucky to have the chance to travel with some new friends I made (another two girls, María and Gemma, who were here with the art program/scholarship from University of Basque Country, and a “local” boy from Florida). We visited Lake Tahoe and climbed the Tallac Mountain. I loved it! It was a wonderful day, it was a tough climbing but we got to see gorgeous sights and places. We also made a four-day road trip to Yosemite Park and L.A. That trip was very casual, unorganized, and crazy fun!  Another weekend I went on my own to San Francisco. There, the beauty of the city and the kindness of its people overwhelmed me.

I believe Reno is a very nice and convenient place to study. It’s calm, sunny (which I appreciate very much) and well communicated. I mean, there are many interesting places to visit around. So you can easily take a weekend off to discover a new place. I was staying in a hostel downtown, just a 10-minute bike ride to the campus. So, it was very easy to get there and stay focused on the studies during the day. At that hostel, the Morris Burner, there is lively community activity so it was also very entertaining to be there in the evenings, we kept socializing, and it felt like ‘coming home’ every day after school.

7. What did you miss the most about the Basque Country?

I missed having a phone number with international calls and Internet access plan. It wasn’t always easy to stay communicated. Also, because of the time difference of 9 hours. I didn’t get the correct phone plan-tariff before I came, and once here, it wasn’t that easy. So, for the next ones coming: you might want to check that! Besides that, I don’t recall missing anything: I found nice food (vegetables, organic and whole grain products, good cheese…), I went to the mountain, I had dinner once at the Basque Corner, I saw the snow, I enjoyed the sun, I felt like in Gasteiz with the cold, I didn’t miss the rain, I biked and walked, I socialized, I drank some nice red wine, and I spoke more Euskara than I usually do in Barcelona!


Stories of Sex and Stigma: Work and Life in Nevada`s Legal Brothels

Stories of Sex and Stigma: Work and Life in Nevada`s Legal Brothels

By Sarah Blithe and Breanna Calvin

The CBS Seminar Series invited Sarah Blithe, Assistant Professor of Communication at UNR, to talk about her research with Breanna Calvin about Nevada`s legal prostitution. Sarah is a gender and organizational communication scholar, whose interests lie in the role that discourse and communication play in shaping our social identities and organizational policies. Her research takes a social justice approach to examine inequality in organizations and occupations.

In their upcoming book Stories of Sex and Stigma (New York University Press), Sarah and Breanna focus on the organizational communication strategies of legal brothels, which they frequently visited in order to gain insight into the daily life of legal prostitutes. Their ethnographic perspective allowed the researchers to go beyond the two reigning approaches of feminism to prostitution: one that considers it oppression thwarted by unfair labor practices, and the other that endorses prostitution as potentially empowering, and calls for improved work conditions. The truth is more complex than either of these perspectives suggests, Sarah argues.

Sarah`s talk departed from the premise that, in spite of the fact that it`s legal, prostitution remains a “tainted” profession of moral, physical, emotional and social stigmatization. The author emphasized the urgency of stigma management practices in “the world`s oldest profession,” which inspired a lively Q&A session. Many thanks for the fascinating lecture, Sarah!

Elephants in the Casino: John Ascuaga’s Nugget

For those of you in the Reno area, you should check out the Special Collections exhibit “Elephants in the Casino: John Ascuaga’s Nugget” on the third floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, open until July 28. As they put it:

Explore the history and legacy of John Ascuaga’s Nugget through the decades. View the Nugget’s transformation beginning with Dick Graves’ modest 1955 Sparks coffee shop, to the expanded casino-resort built and run by Ascuaga and his family for more than 50 years. The exhibit highlight materials from the newly available John Ascuaga’s Nugget Records.


John Ascuaga was born in Idaho to Jose, from Orozko, and Maria. His father had immigrated in 1914, followed by his wife. John and his twin sister Rose followed the older siblings Carmen and Frank. John entered the army and then received his Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Idaho and then an additional degree in hotel and restaurant management from Washington State University.

John Ascuaga

After graduating from college, he moved to Sparks. It was at the Nugget’s Steak House that John met Rose Ardans, his future wife. They purchased and ran the Nugget Hotel and Casino from 1960 onward, along with their children. John had initially worked for Dick Graves in Idaho and followed him to Nevada. When Graves hoped to retire, John, at 34 years old, purchased the Nugget for $3,775,000, paying off the debt in seven years.  The Ascuagas truly made their way from the bottom up.


Michonne Ascuaga

Michonne R. Ascuaga, prominent member of Northern Nevada gaming family

Another prominent Ascuaga is Michonne, John’s daughter. She originally started working at age 13 as a front-desk clerk and continued to work her way up the family business, in the cage and credit arena as well as in marketing and sales for the casino, before becoming CEO in 1997–and only the second woman to run a major resort in Nevada–until its sale to Global Gaming & Hospitality in 2013. Together with her brother, Chief Operating Officer Stephen Ascuaga, she subsequently also served in an advisory role after the Nugget’s sale.

She is a graduate of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and earned an MBA degree from Stanford University. She has served on several boards, including the Santa Clara University Board of Regents, the Sierra Arts Foundation, the Nevada Women’s Fund, and the Forum for a Common Agenda, as well as the  Washoe K-12 Education Foundation.  She has also been chair of our Advisory Board since 2009.

In her own words, “When you live in a place and realize you’re going to live in a place for the rest of your life, you want to see things prosper and improve . . . When I see where I can help, I get involved” (quoted in “Women we love” by Carli Cutchin, Deidre Pike, and Adrienne Rice, for the Reno News & Review).

For more on John Ascuaga, see: Voices from Basque America and “Hard Work and Family Key to John Ascuaga’s Nugget” by Colleen Schreiber.


Craft’s love for Txakoli

It’s that time again!  If you are in the Reno area (or feel the need for an adventure to the “Biggest Little City”) this month, Ty and his gang at Craft Wine and Beer are putting together quite the Basque gastronomic experience.  I have learned over here in Euskal Herria that tasting is enhanced when able to simultaneously embrace multiple components of the Basque Culture, so check out the shindig Ty Martin has organized this month to eat, dance, and celebrate one of my favorite wines and the land from which it “stems,” the culture in which it is “rooted” ( bad wine jokes anyone?).

Check out Ty’s announcement as seen in his newsletter:

Next, Txakolina. It slipped out of our normal comfort zone last year but we’re back on track this season. As you can see from the photo that greeted you at the top of this missive we’re loaded for bear. We’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeve, including smoked chorizo from Villa Basque Deli, cidre’ on tap, and if we’re lucky, a few dancers from the Zazpiak Bat dance club. We’ll also be celebrating some May birthdays so if you want to toast some fantastic wine and shake a leg come on down on Sunday,

May 21st from 2p-6p. Flights, glasses, and food will be available.


It appears the three provinces of the Basque Autonomous Community are represented well here, and the warmer weather is the perfect time for indulging in this hit up Craft, drink txakoli, dance and be merry!



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!


Basque bread, and some beloved neighbors, featured in the John Deere Furrow


Abel making his delicious french fries for camp visitors.


The famous bread oven.

Making bread at their Russell Valley, California, summer camp was quite the project for Abel and Judy Mendeguia. Abel, from Lesaka, was a sheepman for many years from northern Nevada to the Central Valley of California, and the couple’s summer camp was a hive of activity, especially on the days that Abel would bake bread using 50 lbs of flour for the sheepherder camps spread across the range. A story that is reported on in “For the Love of Bread: Part 1: Basque immigrants brought a taste of home with them to the American West” by Laura Read in a recent issue of John Deere’s The Furrow. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but a key part of it is Abel sticking his arm into the bread oven to gauge its temperature. I’m sure anyone who knows Abel can imagine this quite well!

The Mendeguias have been Reno residents for many years since retiring from the sheep business and they are some of the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Abel has volunteered many many years to helping out Reno 4-H sheep project children and they generally invite visiting USAC scholars from the Basque Country and elsewhere to the Russell Camp for a taste of Western life (and some of Abel’s famous fresh cut and made-on-the-spot french fries). His wife, Judy, was from the East and met Abel at a sheep camp on a visit to the West, and then became his lifetime partner.

Abel has an entry, along with thousands of other Basques who came to the US, in Basques in the United States, vol. 1, Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa.

Never a dull moment at the Mendeguias’ summer camp!

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