Saturday, December 01, 2007

Basques In New Mexico

This time I am not kidding, this note by The News Bulletin talks about the Basque Club in New Mexico.

Here you have it:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Basque Club upholds ancient culture

Kenn Rodriguez News-Bulletin Staff Writer;

When she first came to New Mexico, Suzanne Uberuaga said she met a lot of people who she immediately knew were Basque.

"When I first moved to Santa Fe I started meeting people with Basque last names," she said. "And I said 'Oh, you're Basque.' And they'd say, 'No, I'm Spanish.' But you could see it in their faces — the nose, the eyes and eyebrows. They were Basque, and didn't know it."

Uberuaga, who grew up in Boise, Idaho, started the Basque Club of New Mexico (Club Vasco de Nuevo Mexico) four years ago in order to help to spread the word about the Basque culture and language (Euskara), and the Basque country - an area in northern Spain and southwest France that has strived for self-determination since the 19th century.

Some common last names found in New Mexico that are linked to Spain but are actually Basque include Abeyta, Anaya, Apodaca, Archuleta, Arellano, Esquibel, Jaramillo, Larrañaga, Mendoza, Mondragon, Montoya, Perea, Quintana, Ruiz, Saiz, Salazar, Tapia, Ulibarri, Urioste, Velasquez and Velarde, according to the Basque Club of New Mexico's pamphlets.

Uberuaga said five of the 14 families that founded Santa Fe were of Basque origin, as well as well-known conquistadors Don Juan de Oñate and Captain Juan Bautista de Anza.

She said she learned about Basque culture from relatives in Boise, Idaho, which attained a large Basque population in the 1920s.

"I really had an appreciation for the culture — the dancing, the food — from my relatives, really," she said. "They did a lot to preserve the culture in Boise. So to honor them, I thought I should try to do something here."

Starting the club in 2004 was the first step. Since then, the club has hosted periodical gatherings. The latest took place is Mountainair in October, and another in planned in Santa Fe on December 9.

Uberuaga said the gatherings are meant to inform people of the Basque culture and heritage that is largely unknown in New Mexico.

"A good Basque is taught to preserve the culture," she said. "It's such an ancient race - one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe. That it's still known hasn't just happened. We've worked to practice and preserve all the traditions."

Jeanne Ardens, of Bosque Farms, is a third-generation Basque who grew up near Corona, N.M. She recently attended the gathering in Mountainair and joined the Basque Club of New Mexico. She said she's very excited about the club.

"I'd been to California to Basque festivals, and it's just fun to meet people in New Mexico who share the Basque heritage," she said.

Ardens, who said her Basque ancestors came from the French Basque provinces, said she learned some Basque traditions from her father, and thought she knew a lot about Basque culture.

"My dad knew everyone who was Basque; there were a lot around Corona who were sheep herders," she said. "I thought I knew everything to know about it, but going to this meeting and meeting new people, I'm finding out more and more. I ran into the son of one of my dad's friends there, and both of our fathers had passed away, so it was very special."

The Basque culture is one that was shaped by the geography of the Basque region, located in northern Spain and southwestern France. The Basques were sea faring people, residing along the Bay of Biscay as well as the western Pyrenees mountains. Thus they were known as sailors as well as sheepherders.

Today, the Basque country consists of seven provinces in Spain and France. The Basque Autonomous Community of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba, as well as Nafarroa, or Navarra in Spanish, are all in modern-day Spain. The provinces of Zuberoa, Larurdi and Behe-Nafarroa lie in modern-day France.

Basque cuisine includes meats and fish, such as cod, grilled over hot coals, lamb stews, bean dishes, pintxos (the Basque equivalent of Spanish tapas), sheep's-milk cheeses from Idiazabal, the wine Txakoli and Gipuzkoan cider.

Uberuaga said another integral part of Basque culture was dance and the traditional dress that accompanies it.

In Boise, and other parts of the U.S., Basque settlers started boarding houses where people could speak the Basque language, eat Basque food, and play Basque musical instruments. Eventually dance groups were started, and they proved to be central to cultural events.

"You can say that the dancers tell a story," Uberuaga said. "The story might be about warrior, or about harvest, or fishermen."

She describes the style as similar to Irish dances, but more like ballet, with "a lot of fancy, fast footwork and toe work." Men often execute high kicks.

The traditional dress of Basque dancers — white shirts with red sashes and berets — has been copied by the runners who run with the bulls in Pamplona - which is in Navarre and was the historical capital of Basque country.

Uberuaga said the club is currently searching out new members all over the state, and is part of the planning committee for Santa Fe's 400th birthday celebration.

"It's an honor to be included in the planning," she said.

The Basque Club of New Mexico's next gathering is planned for Dec. 9 at La Casa Loma Club House, 100 Rio Vista Place, in Santa Fe.

Uberuaga said the meeting will double as the club's Christmas party. Among the highlights will be an appearance of the Basque Santa Clause - Olenzero.

"He doesn't wear red and white — he wears the traditional Basque costume with a dark beret, knickers and laced up espandrilles. He also carries a staff and smokes a pipe."

For more information on the club, call (505) 690-8050 or go to their website.

You may have heard the last name Uberuaga before, Blas Uberuaga runs English language Buber's Page, what may be the first ever site in the internet dedicated entirely to the Basque culture and language.


No comments:

Post a Comment