A Travel Guide to Basque America - Families, Feasts and Festivals, by journalist Nancy Zubiri, is a passionate and well-researched guide to the Great Basin country of the West.
Zubiri traces Basque culture from its
origins in the Pyrenees to strongholds today in southern Idaho,
northern Nevada and California's Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.
Along the way she gives us deft sketches of Basque communities and
lively sidebars that feature interviews with memorable
Zubiri points out that the first influx
of Basques in the United States were immigrants who had originally
settled in South America before moving on to Los Angeles in 1849,
chasing the Gold Rush.
European Basques soon
started to arrive in the West after the transcontinental railroad
was completed in 1869, and quickly became a mainstay of the sheep
industry. While many people still picture Basque-Americans as
shepherds, they have moved on to other professions, including
governor of Montana and secretary of state of
Zubiri writes about efforts to preserve
the culture through festivals, formation of folk dance companies
and the teaching of Euskara, the Basque language. Elko, Nev., which
has gained a reputation for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, also hosts
the National Basque Festival.
Reno is home to the
University of Nevada's Basque Studies Program and Basque library,
University of Nevada Press Basque book series and a 25-foot-high
Basque Sheepherder Monument. Boise, Idaho, has over 10,000
Basque-Americans along with the only Basque museum in the United
Zubiri's guide contains historical and
present-day photos, easy-to-read maps and references at the end of