Nevada sheep rancher Joe Juaristi spoke for years about making a trip back to the Spanish Basque Country that he left sixty years earlier, but each time the subject came up the discussion evolved into a family debate about the scope and members of the journey. Finally Joe's son, Vince, secretly resolved to organize the trip that his father wanted and needed--the two of them, traveling alone, making a quiet reunion with Joe's twin sister, who suffers from Alzheimer's, visiting other aging siblings and friends, and recounting the places that formed Joe's memories of his youth.
Back to Bizkaia is part travel book, part memoir of two men exploring their mutual roots and their unique father-son bond. The narrative intertwines an engaging account of the contemporary Basque Country with Joe's experiences as an immigrant making his way in a new country and Vince's memories of growing up in a close Basque-American community in the American West. This is a book about Basques and their American families, but on another level it is every immigrant's story of return to a beloved homeland.
Throughout history, Basque men and women have made contributions in navigation, education, science, fashion, politics, and many other fields. Too often these achievements have been overlooked, or have been claimed as the accomplishments of others. Basque Firsts: People Who Changed the World profiles seven remarkable Basques who were the first in their fields to do something—something extraordinary—that had a dramatic impact on others who followed them. The profiles use primary sources to tell fresh stories and offer a wonderful variety, showing the astonishing breadth of Basque contributions. They include Juan Sebastían Elcano, the first person to circumnavigate the earth; St. Ignatius of Loyola, the first Jesuit to seed a worldwide movement in education; Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Father of Neurology and a Nobel laureate; Cristóbal Balenciaga, the king of haute couture; Paul Laxalt, one of Ronald Reagan’s closest friends in politics; and Edurne Pasaban, the first woman to climb the world’s fourteen tallest mountains. Basque Firsts provides a rare look at a culture’s people, revealing the significant contributions they have shared.
Basque Immigrants and Nevada’s Sheep Industry is a rich and complex exploration of the history of Basque immigration to the rangelands of Nevada and the interior West. It looks critically at the Basque sheepherders in the American West and more broadly at the modern history of American foreign relations with Spain after the Second World War.
Between the 1880s and the 1950s, the western open-range sheep industry was the original economic attraction for Basque immigrants. This engaging study tracks the development of the Basque presence in the American West, providing deep detail about the sheepherders’ history, native and local culture, the challenges they faced, and the changing conditions under which the Basques lived and worked. Saitua also shows how Basque immigrant sheepherders went from being a marginalized labor group to a desirable, high-priced workforce in response to the constant demand for their labor power.
As the twentieth century progressed, the geopolitical tide in America began to change. In 1924, the Restrictive Immigration Act resulted in a truncated labor supply from the Basque Country in Spain. During the Great Depression and the Second World War, the labor shortage became acute. In response, Senator Patrick McCarran from Nevada lobbied on behalf of his wool-growing constituency to open immigration doors for Basques, the most desirable laborers for tending sheep in remote places. Subsequently, Cold War international tensions offered opportunities for a reconciliation between the United States and Francisco Franco, despite Spain’s previous sympathy with the Axis powers.
This fresh portrayal shows how Basque immigrants became the backbone of the sheep industry in Nevada. It also contributes to a wider understanding of the significance of Basque immigration by exploring the role of Basque agricultural labor in the United States, the economic interests of Western ranchers, and McCarran’s diplomacy as catalysts that eventually helped bring Spain into the orbit of western democracies.
The Deep Blue Memory
Monique Laxalt Urza University of Nevada Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS3571.R95D43 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Monique Laxalt Urza's first novel is an intimate portrait of a second-generation Basque-American who struggles to reconcile her memories of the simplicity of the past with the reality of change in the present. The Deep Blue Memory is a fictionalized story of immigration told from the point of view of the granddaughter of Basque immigrant grandparents and daughter of a prominent first-generation family. The Deep Blue Memory addresses themes central to all of human existence. In particular, the book examines the eternal human search for identity that at the level of the first generation is forward-looking, but at the level of the grandchildren of immigrants, too often looks backward, clinging to images of a remembered past. The Deep Blue Memory treats the elements of time and knowledge, and of art and reality, as being intertwined. More than about any specific character, this book is about family—its make-up, its complexity, and its delicateness when resettled in America, the land of cataclysmic change.
In this volume, brothers Mark and John Bieter chronicle three generations of Basque presence in Idaho from 1890 to the present, resulting in an engaging story that begins with a few solitary sheepherders and follows their evolution into the prominent ethnic community of today.
The Good Oak
Martin Etchart University of Nevada Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3605.T38G66 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Thirteen-year-old Matt Echbar is angry at the world. His widowed father is too busy for him, and his grandfather is an embarrassment, an unschooled Basque shepherd whose language and customs are completely alien to Matt’s all-American lifestyle. Things get worse when the grandfather steals a flock of sheep and dragoons Matt into helping him drive them to a secret camp in the Arizona mountains. The ensuing adventure is one of the most compelling and delightful coming-of-age novels in recent fiction. As Matt and his aitatxi, accompanied by their two faithful sheepdogs, drive the flock across the burgeoning suburbs of Phoenix and into the remote mountains, the boy learns the ancient skills of the sheepherder and discovers the unexpected wisdom that has given his Old Country grandfather the strength and patience of a sturdy oak. By the time the journey reaches its fateful conclusion, Matt has developed a new bond with the old man and has learned that true manhood includes accepting one’s heritage.
In this meticulously researched study of Basque boardinghouses in the United States, Jeronima Echeverria offers a compelling history of the institution that most deeply shaped Basque immigrant life and served as the center of Basque communities throughout the West. She weaves into her narrative the stories of the boarding house owners and operators and the ways they made their establishments a home away from home for their fellow compatriots, as well as the stories of the young Basques who left the security of their beloved homeland to find work in the United States.
In 1960, renowned Nevada writer Robert Laxalt moved himself and his family to a small Basque village in the French Pyrenees. The son of Basque emigrants, Laxalt wanted to learn as much as he could about the ancient and mysterious people from which he was descended and about the country from which his parents came. Thanks to his Basque surname and a wide network of family connections, Laxalt was able to penetrate the traditional reserve of the Basques in a way that outsiders rarely can. In the process, he gained rare insight into the nature of the Basques and the isolated, beautiful mountain world where they have lived for uncounted centuries. Based on Laxalt’s personal journals of this and a later sojourn in 1965, The Land of My Fathers is a moving record of a people and their homeland. Through Laxalt’s perceptive eyes and his wife Joyce’s photographs, we observe the Basques’ market days and festivals, join their dove hunts and harvests, share their humor and history, their deep sense of nationalism, their abiding pride in their culture and their homes, and discover the profound sources of the Basques’ strength and their endurance as a people. Photography by Joyce Laxalt.
The Last Shepherd
Martin Etchart University of Nevada Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3605.T38L37 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Mathieu Etchiberri wants nothing more than to leave his family’s Arizona sheep ranch and go to college, but his father insists that he take over the ranch instead. Then his father is killed in an accident, and Matt discovers that he is not the heir to the ranch. So he travels to the French Pyrenees from which his father and grandparents came to settle the questions about his legacy. Instead, he discovers a vast Basque family and a mystery that drove his father to America and still festers in the mountain village. As Matt resolves the mystery of his family, he also discovers his Basque roots and learns the nature of love of family, responsibility, and the tension between individual desires and the needs of a community.
Matt’s journey to manhood takes place in a vividly depicted landscape populated by lively, memorable characters. This is the powerful story of a young man’s search for an identity that encompasses two cultures and one complex, scattered family.
Ostrich: (A Comic Novel)
Michael A. Thomas University of Nevada Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3570.H5739O88 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Nevada sheep rancher Sabine Eckleberry’s life is in shambles. His wife has decamped to Arizona to run a dog-grooming business; his youngest daughter needs a husband; his irrepressible son VJ wants to turn the ranch into an ostrich-breeding operation; and the wild burros he has adopted to guard his sheep can’t get along with their charges. Now his family and friends are about to descend on the ranch to celebrate Sabine’s seventy-second birthday. The ranch is soon a chaos of budding and blighted romances, mistaken identities, rampaging poodles, runaway sheep, schemes of seduction and sudden wealth, and a newly hatched ostrich chick in search of love. Novelist Michael A. Thomas has created a cast of memorable human characters, a supporting cast of realistic animal personalities, and a colorful setting in Nevada’s rangeland. His keen ear for dialogue and his perfect timing support a plot as complicated and satisfying as a Shakespearean comedy.
A collection of new essays on notable historic and contemporary Basques of America's Far West that offers a perceptive and lively examination of the lives of one of the West's most resilient and successful ethnic minorities. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the Basque people or those interested in the process of immigration and assimilation: these profiles illustrate how America's Basque immigrants have achieved success in mainstream society while retaining strong ties to their ancient Old World culture.
From Columbus's first voyage to "the Indies" in 1492, Basques participated in Spain's American enterprise. Supported by centuries of experience as mariners, shipbuilders, traders, miners, and ironworkers; encouraged toward emigration by restrictive inheritance laws and a land-poor territory; and conditioned by a culture that prized hard work and social solidarity, the Basques were poised to play a significant role in the exploration and development of the New World. The first Basques arrived with Columbus, and well into the twentieth century they continued to arrive seeking livelihood and refuge.
Possible Paradises, José Manuel Azcona Pastor's engaging and meticulously researched study of Basque emigration to the Americas, is a path breaking work of monumental importance. Ranging over the entire former Spanish American empire from Tierra del Fuego to the U.S. Southwest and covering over five centuries of history, Azcona examines the roles and fates of the Basques who came to the New World. He also studies the impact of the New World on the Basque Country, from the importance in the modern Basque diet of such American foodstuffs as corn and beans to the encouragement given to traditional Basque industries by the colonizers' demand for ships and iron tools. He considers the role of Basques in the Spanish imperial expeditions of exploration and conquest; their participation in transatlantic commerce and communication.
The Basque diaspora, although worldwide in dimension, has had its greatest presence and importance in the Americas. Azcona's pioneering study views the Basque presence in the New World through the broadest possible lens, linking Basque communities and activities from Argentina to the North American West.
Foreword by William A. Douglass. Translation by Roland Vazquez.
Urza discusses the genesis of the National Basque Monument to the Basque Sheepherder that is located in Reno, Nevada. He also describes the competition held to determine the monument's design and the debates arising from the modern sculpture created by renowned Basque artist Nestor Basterrextea. Urza examines the arguments of those who favored the selection of a figurative, traditional symbol and those who preferred a modern, forward-looking symbol. He utilizes this discussion to explore the evolution of Basque ethnicity and its relationship to society.
A Travel Guide to Basque America—the first-ever guide to America’s Basque-American communities, their history, culture, and festivals—has been a best-seller since it first appeared in 1998. This new edition lists dozens of new restaurants, Basque cultural clubs and cultural events, and hundreds of Basque-related Internet sites that have appeared since 1998. It also includes new information about recent events in the Basque Country, their impact on Basque-Americans, and new cultural and community efforts to preserve Basque culture in America. This is the essential guide for Basque-Americans seeking links to their ancient culture and its homeland and their counterparts in the U.S., as well as for any traveler interested in exploring one of this country’s most vibrant and fascinating ethnic minorities.