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Joseba Zulaika returns to Itziar to talk about his classic Basque Violence

In June 22 Joseba Zulaika gave a talk in Itziar, his home town and the place of the ethnographic work for which he is best known, Basque Violence: Metaphor and Sacrament. Almost forty years ago, having concluded his fieldwork, Zulaika was asked to give a talk in Itziar and he said that this one, now that ETA is ended, felt like a repetition of that one—when he had to face his village neighbors and explain what he had “discovered” about the place.

Zulaika repeated his argument about the Homeric plot underlying “The Tragedy of Carlos”—the two “milk brothers” and close friends Martin and Carlos who later became political antagonists in the eyes of the community and when Carlos was killed by ETA Martin didn’t approve of it. Zulaika later applied the Homeric scheme to the painful history of ETA in Itziar—the plight of the hero who falls into a tragic error. The tragic error is really an error, yet it is the sort of error a good man would make. It is thus an act both free and conditioned. It is not forced upon him, but he makes it under conditions so adverse that we watch him with compassion. There could be many readings of Itziar’s events but Zulaika emphasized that, far beyond the current “terrorist” all encompassing discourse, only an ethnographic approach could make justice to the actual histories of the pople. Zulaika said that giving his talk in Itziar was unlike giving it anywhere else—because he was in the presence of the protagonists of his ethnography and this implied a “repetition” in the deeper sense that the presence of Martin and Carlos and the former ETA activists wasn’t just a memory of past events, but an affirmation of the present and future realities of Itziar in this post-ETA era.

June 21, 1813: Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz

On June 21, 1813, combined Iberian and British forces led by the Duke of Wellington defeated the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan at the Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz, a turning point in the Peninsular War (1807-1814). Coming in the aftermath of Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, it could be argued that this battle served to underscore the beginning of the end of Napoleonic dominance of Europe.

Monument to the battle in the Virgen Blanca Square, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Photo by Basotxerri. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Following the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, French forces had been forced to retreat northward. In May 1813, Wellington’s coalition forces moved quickly from northern Portugal toward the French border to cut off their escape route, and the French were forced to retreat to Burgos. And on June 21, the two sides engaged in the battle, about two miles outside the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz in the valley of the River Zadorra.

Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz (1813). Map by Gregory Fremont-Barnes. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The French forces occupied the south side of the river, encircled by the coalition forces to the west and north. Wellington divided his attack into four columns, striking at the French from the south. west, and north, while the final assault was aimed at the French rearguard. Perhaps the key moment came when the column led by General Thomas Graham appeared from the north along the road to Bilbao, around noon. Seeing this, the French realized they were encircled and began to retreat toward Vitoria-Gasteiz. At the same time, their escape route toward the north-east (Pamplona-Iruñea and Baiona) was also cut off by troops commanded by the Bizkaian Colonel Francisco Tomás Anchia, aka Francisco Longa. Finally, the combined coalition forces managed to cross the Zadorra and push the French back further still. The morale of the latter collapsed, and tens of thousands fled the battle along the only escape route possible, toward the east and Agurain (Salvatierra).There were approximately 5,000 deaths on each side.

Model recreation of the battle in the Araba Armory Museum. Photo by Zarateman. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By the end of the year, Wellington’s forces had captured both Donostia-San Sebastián, Pamplona-Iruñea, and were encamped in France. The Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz had proved to be a turning point in the war.

Interestingly, the battle was the inspiration for Beethoven’s Opus 91, titled “Wellington’s Victory, or, the Battle of Vitoria” (Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria) or just the “Battle Symphony” or “Wellington’s Victory,” which portrays the battle as musical drama.

 

“Winnewhat?” “Winne-e-macca!” NABO 2018

 

“Winnewhat?”

Winn-e-macca

This is how I could summarize my first contact with natives of Winnemucca, Humboldt state in northern Nevada. I guess they forgave my deficient pronunciation thanks to the fact that we were in a relaxing setting, surrounded by Basque-Americans at the Ormaechea’s Basque Restaurant bar.

“You will improve that after a Picon, buddy!”

(By Iñigo Medina Gracia. Photo credit Benan Oregi)

Our main purpose was to attend as guests the 40thAnnual Basque Festival and the NABO Summer Convention (main meeting for the North American Basques Clubs) in Winnemucca on Saturday, 8th of June. This time, the club delegates came from all over the USA (states of California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and even Washington D.C. were represented). Assistants were called to follow the development of main programs ran by the federation chairs. They analyzed the organization’s developments over the past five months, designed and approved future projects, and voted for internal presidential elections. Philippe Acheritogaray from San Francisco’s BCC was elected as new NABO president. Incumbent president Annie Gavica from Boise Basque Museum became Vice-President. Mayi Petracek from Colorado was ratified as Treasurer, and our partner at the CBS Kate Camino from Reno became the new Secretary (Zorionak Kate!).

As guests, we had the chance to mention some of the projects we are running currently.

Basque librarian Iñaki Arrieta gave an introduction about the project carried out by the CBS and the Basque Library, which is located in the UNR. He underlined the work homed by this entity, and mentioned the Library’s vision of acquisitions as a memory and research portal institution focused on Basque Culture and Basque Diaspora. The mission of the Jon Bilbao’s Basque Library is the world’s leading academic library on Basque Diaspora primary focused in North America. Its duty as institution is to develop a collection of Basque resources, preserve the documentary heritage of the Basque Diaspora in the US, and serve as research portal in English to memory institutions. Inaki reported the importance of various current donations done by several individuals (Anita Anacabe, Cengotitabengoa Family or Linda Dufurrena), including the recent donation of Frank Bergon as an incentive for other Diaspora members who could contribute to enrich the Archives. A new digital management system with different repositories designed by the UNR was also presented.

Basque Government’s representative Benan Oregi, mentioned the recent programs they are offering within the Diaspora and also in the Basque Country. Presented projects were  ”Gaztemundu” program and “Euskal Herria: huge migration territory”. This last testing pilot project focused on bringing a current approach and wide scoop perspective about the historical importance of Basque Diaspora oriented to high school students in Euskal Herria. Summer courses ran by the Directorate for the Basque Community Abroad in Azkoitia during 12 and 13 of July, were also mentioned. The leitmotiv of the summer courses this time will be “Migration and Mobility within the Basque Community Abroad”. I was also presented in plenum as assistance and management interlocutor between the Basque Government and the North American Basque Clubs.

After 7pm, Ardi Beltza dancers from Ruby Mountain performed their “Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika”, an emotive representation about the bombing of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War. The performance featured the recently published “The Bombing of Gernika, A Short History”, written by Dr. Xabier Irujo and published by the CBS. The book narrates“the decision of the fascist forces to attack the open city, (…) the horror of the bombing, (…)  its aftermath,and (…) the terrible events that colored not only the modern history of the Basques, but of all of humanity as it ushered in a new age of warfare.”

After dinner, the Basque-American band “Amerikanuak” made the night enjoyable with their concert in the surrounding area of the Ormaechea’s Restaurant. Assistants had a good time and did not waste the chance to dance typical and popular Basque songs until midnight.

Next morning at 8am, the brave participants in the Festival ran (some of us just walked) the 5K run proposed by the organization. It was a nice chance to burn the delicious and generous dinner offered the night before at Ormaechea’s, one of the two Basque restaurants settled in Winnemucca. After that, everything was ready for the scheduled parade along the city. Assistants held a wake over to ensure themselves a strategic position in both sides of the West Winnemucca Blvd in order to guarantee the best chance for picking up the sweets that the parade participants were going to throw.

At 12am, the opening ceremonies took place at Nixon Lawn where the dancing performances started while the requests to participate in the Basque sporting events were open. Two bars with beverages and Txorizo sandwiches offered the assistants a nice way to season the combination of warm weather, friendly atmosphere and open Basque culture. The first floor of the East Center of Winnemucca’s Convention Center was fulfilled by several stands of vendors that mixed Basque thematic items and Western crafts. The visitors also had the opportunity to visit an historical exhibit about the Basque Country provided by the Boise Basque Museum, get involved into AISA Euskara courses and purchase the varied publications on Basque themes edited by CBS that our partner Daniel Montero was featuring there.

At 1.30pm, a typical Basque lunch was offered to all participants. The menu included salad, beans, lamb stew, bread, steak and dessert. The afternoon agenda was fulfilled with the Txerriki sausage show off and paella exhibition and sale at 5,30pm. After dining at the iconic Basque Martin Hotel, we topped it all with the dance at West Hall of the Convention Center. The bands Decoy, Amerikanuak and Ardi Beltza performed, and created a festive atmosphere until midnight.

Sunday morning held no pessimistic feelings but fraternity and holy joy at 9am during the Basque Catholic mass offered at the Winnemucca Convention Center. After the homily, participants gathered at the West Hall to have a marvelous Basque breakfast of tripota, jamon, chorizo, eggs, potatoes and bread. The Basque dance competition awards were announced, which marked the end of a marvelous festival in Winnemucca. Or should I say “Winn-e-macca”?

 

 

 

 

A message from Philippe Acheritogaray, the new NABO President

This week we are sharing a message from N.A.B.O.’s new President, Philippe Acheritogaray. On behalf of everyone in the organization, we’d like to congratulate him, and look forward to his leadership. Zorionak Philippe!

Officers

President’s Message

Egun on deneri,

PhilippeMy name is Philippe Acheritogaray and I’m the new president of the Board of Directors of the North American Basque Organizations. I wanted to thank our outgoing President and new Vice-President, Annie Gavica, outgoing Secretary, Lael Uberuaga Rodgers, and outgoing Vice-President Valerie Arrechea for their service to N.A.B.O. this past year. Kate Camino, a distinguished and tenured member of our board of directors, our Facilitator and our Co-Director of Udaleku, will take over as Secretary. I look forward to working closely with Kate this term, and leveraging her unique skill set to achieve some of my goals outlined in my nomination declaration statement. Speaking of unique skill sets, N.A.B.O. is very fortunate to again have Mayi Petracek, a CPA and a senior accounting manager, serve as our Treasurer and as our Finance and Investment Committee Chairperson. Our N.A.B.O. core programs continue to be led by the steadfast stewardship of Pierre Etcharren (Mus), Martin Goicoechea (Euskara) and Valerie Arrechea & Kate Camino (Udaleku).

We just concluded our annual N.A.B.O. Convention this past weekend in Winnemucca, Nevada, which was organized and hosted by Nevada’s oldest Basque club, the Euskaldunak Danak Bat Basque Club of Winnemucca. The convention was a non-stop series of Basqueness, including an artistic and educational remembrance of the 1937 bombing of Gernika, a 5K walk/run, a Parade down Winnemucca Blvd., Basque folkloric dance performances by eight different dance groups from four different states, Bertsolaris, a Basque weight lifter, Wood Choppers, arts and crafts displayed from local U.S. Basque artists, Basque musicians, exhibits, Basque Mass and great food.

The N.A.B.O. Txerriki (Pork Sausage) contest was won by the Marin Sonoma Basque Association for Best Tripota, while the Txorizo division was won by the Eiguren/Mendieta team from Nampa, Idaho.

Jerry EtcheverrySince 2002 N.A.B.O. has been recognizing persons who have made significant contributions to the success of N.A.B.O. and Annie Gavica and I had the honor to present Jerry Etcheverry with N.A.B.O.’s Bizi Emankorra award for his longtime service as a delegate from Winnemucca. Mila esker berriz Jerry!

 

On behalf of the N.A.B.O. Board of Directors I’d like to express our gratitude to the Euskaldunak Danak Bat Basque Club for such a well-organized convention, which was a great success bringing the Basque community together to celebrate our heritage – Euskaldunak Danak Bat! All Basques are one!

Convention 2018 Photo Galleries

Meeting | Events | Txerrik

 

 

June 11, 1967: Xalbador jeered at national bertsolaritza championship in Donostia

On June 11, 1967, one of the most controversial incidents to ever take place in the history of berstolaritza–Basque oral improvised verse–occurred during the national championship in the main fronton or pelota court of Donostia-San Sebastián: on hearing that the bertsolari (improviser) Xalbador had been selected by the judges over a more popular opponent, Joxe Migel Iztueta aka Lazkao Txiki, to advance to the head-to-head final to compete against Uztapide, a section of the audience began to jeer. The reason for this? He was from Iparralde, the Northern Basque Country in France, and they did not understand his dialect of Basque so well.

Xalbador (1920-1976)

Born in 1920 in Urepele, Lower Navarre, Fernando Aire, aka Xalbador, was arguably the most renowned bertsolari in modern times from Iparralde. He began to perform in public after World War II, and by the 1960s was regarded, together with Manuel Olaizola, aka Uztapide, as one of the leading exponents of the art form. However, Xalbador stood out from most of his contemporaries for a number of reasons: first and foremost, he used his natal dialect of Basque from Lower Navarre; besides that, though, he also incorporated melodies that many people in Hegoalde (the Southern Basque Country) were unfamiliar with; and finally, he also stood apart from many of his rival bertsolaris for the sheer lyrical quality of his verses as well as his ability to draw profound reflections from seemingly inconsequential things. Indeed, his poetic sensibility was such that, following his death in 1976, the famous Basque singer-songwriter Xabier Lete dedicated a song to him, “Xalbadorren heriotzean” (On Xalbador’s death), which subsequently became one of the most famous and repeated Basque songs, still sung to this day. And the 1989 national champion bertsolari, Jon Lopategi, also dedicated his winning verse to Xalbador. That all said, he never won a major championship, finishing fourth in 1960, third in 1962 and 1965, and, ultimately, second in 1967.

In the infamous 1967 championship, as mentioned, some members of the audience jeered on hearing the judges’ decision to advance Xalbador to the final head-to-head contest against Uztapide (it should be noted that it remains unclear whether they were jeering the bertsolari or the judges, or both). As per the rules of the competition, Xalbador was obliged to step up to the microphone and compose a verse in response to the decision. As he began his strophe, he found it difficult to make his voice heard, but, gradually, the power and beauty of his words turned the audience around. He sung:

Anai-arrebok, ez, otoi, pentsa
neu’re gustora nagonik,
poz gehiago izango nuen
albotik beha egonik.

Brothers and sisters, do not think
that I am happy;
how much better would I feel
looking on from some corner.

Zuek ezpazerate kontentu
errua ez daukat ez nik…

If you are not happy
it is not my fault…

At this point, the jeers subsided and, incredibly, the audience began to cheer. Xalbador, in turn, his voice barely able to continue with emotion, repeated and concluded the verse:

Zuek ezpazerate kontentu
errua ez daukat ez nik,
txistuak jo dituzute bainan
maite zaituztet orainik.

If you are not happy
it is not my fault:
in spite of your whistles
I still love you.

By the end of the verse the audience had risen to its feet and was applauding the bertsolari from Urepele. The story remains one of the great moving moments in the history of berstolaritza and in Basque culture more generally. This moment was, remarkably, captured on film:

To learn more about bertsolaritza, check out Voicing the Moment: Improvised Oral Poetry and Basque Tradition, edited by Samuel G. Armistead and Joseba Zulaika, available free to download here.

Another great resource is Bertsolaritza, El bertsolarismo, Bertsolaritza by Joxerra Garzia, a publication of the Etxepare Basque Institute, free to download here.

On the rich Basque dialects, see The Dialects of Basque by Koldo Zuazo.

 

The Civil War in Enkarterri

Enkarterri Museoa inaugurated on June 2 an exhibition with 70 illustrations of newspapers of different ideologies during the War of 1936, and held a conference about this period in Bizkaia.

The president of the parliament of Bizkaia, Ana Otadui, opened the exhibition “Cartoonists at war. 1936-1939”. Historian and illustrator Aline Soberon, and historian Txema Uriarte are the authors of this exhibition that aims to “reflect the warlike conflict from another point of view”. Each of the 70 illustrations was redrawn by Aline Soberon, following the original technique. The exhibition will remain open until October 14.

   

At 11:30, the museum hosted the conference titled “Civil War in Enkarterri”, organized by the Enkarterri Museum with the presence – among others – of researchers Aitor Miñambres, Xabier Irujo and Jone M. Gil, who spoke about the War of 1936 in this region of Bizkaia. Xabier Irujo spoke about the German, Italian and Spanish air forces’ terror bombing campaign in Enkarterri.

The conference schedule was the following:

11:30 Inauguration of the exhibition “Cartoonists in war. 1936-1939 “and congress” Civil War in Las Encartaciones “

12:30 Aitor Miñambres. Civil War in Enkarterri

13:15 Jone M. Gil. Patrimony of the Civil War

13:30 Xabier Irujo. Terror Bombing Campaign in Enkarterri

14:15 Break

15:00 Juan T. Sáez Iturbe “Pikizu”. Enkarterri. Historical memory

15:30 Txomin Etxebarria. Balmaseda. 1936-1937

16:00 Nagore Orella. Galdames. Summer rain

16:30 Javier de la Colina. Sopuerta The war according to their dead

17:00 PM Break

17:30 Josu Gallarreta. Zalla A battle of ten days

18:00 Tasio Munarriz. Portugalete. War and postwar

18:30 Koldo López Grandoso. Barakaldo. Eleven months of resistance

19:00 J.I.R. Waiter. Ortuella. Victims of war

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!

 

Conference on the Stuka experiment in Maestrat

Conference on the Stuka experiment in Maestrat

Eighty-one years later, the bombing of Gernika is one of the international icons that commemorates the suffering of civilians in the course of wars and, more specifically, the innocent victims of aerial bombardments. The one in Gernika was an unprecedented air attack that, according to the historian Xabier Irujo, caused more than 2,000 victims and was a war experiment in order to test the Koppelwurf bombing system and the new cocktail of explosive and incendiary bombs devised by Wolfram von Richthofen, chief of staff of the Luftwaffe on Basque soil in 1937. Moreover, the bombing was a birthday gift that was supposed to happen for Hitler’s 48th birthday.

The Condor Legion, as the Luftwaffe unit that Hitler sent to Franco was called, carried out other experimental bombings preparing for World War II. One of these experiments was the one that the German air unit carried out in Maestrat (Valencia) in order to put to the test the new dive bomber models Junkers Ju87 Stuka and the new 500 kg bombs. The Condor Legion destroyed four locations in order to measure its effectiveness in May 1938, causing many casualties among civilians.

          

A conference organized by Oscar Vives (University of Valencia) took place on May 25-29, bringing together researchers and historians to study this event, where Xabier Irujo from the University of Nevada, specialist in the bombing of Gernika, participated. The conference also featured Dr. Joan Villarroya, who spoke about Franco’s aviation in Valencia and Catalonia, and Dr. Stefanie Schüler-Springorum from the University of Berlin, who spoke about life during the war of young German pilots. The bombings of other territories such as Alcañiz, Alicante, and Castellón were also discussed, as well as the Battle of Levante. A round table was held to close the conference.

In the course of the conference the producer Docsvalència presented the film titled ‘Stuka Experiment’, which is a documentary that studies what happened in “Castellon’s Gernika” 80 years ago.

 

 

June 6, 1849: Death of Basque guerrilla leader Martina Ibaibarriaga

On June 6, 1849, Martina Ibaibarriaga died in Oña, Burgos. She gained renown as a young woman among the guerrilla ranks fighting the occupying French forces during the Penisnular War (1807-1814).

Martina Ibaibarriaga (1788-1849)

Maria Martina Ibaibarriaga Elorriaga was born in Berriz, Bizkaia, on January 26, 1788, although the family later moved to Bilbao, where her father ran a pharmacy. When French troops invaded and occupied the Basque Country during the period 1807-1808, the initial response of the Basque population was to form bands of guerrillas to fight the occupiers, with these bands being overseen by the guerrilla leader from Navarre, Francisco Espoz Ilundain (aka Francisco Espoz Mina). Martina initially joined a group led by Juan de Belar, alias “El Manco” (the one-armed man), which fought the French in the district in around Durango, but soon she rose to command her own guerrilla group, leading some fifty men in operations against the French.

However, several local authorities then complained that her band were appropriating rations and supplies by force and without paying for them. She was subsequently captured by Espoz Mina’s men in Mungia, Bizkaia, in July 1811, and judged before a meeting of guerrilla chiefs in at Villarcayo, Burgos. Eight of her men were executed by firing squad, but she was spared and, indeed, during the rest of war served in another group under the command of fellow Bizkaian Francisco Tomás Anchia, aka Francisco Longa. In 1812, she met Félix Asenjo, a delegate of the Spanish government from Oña, Burgos, sent to instruct the guerrillas. The two married that same year, although she continued to fight, taking in part in the important Battle of Vitoria-Gasteiz in 1813, after which, it seems, she came to meet the Duke of Wellington.

After the war, she settled in Oña with her husband, and there she died in 1849.

 

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.

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