Did you know…?

Wolfram_evaporated_crystals_and_1cm3_cubeThe element tungsten was discovered by two Basque brothers, Juan José and Fausto Elhuyar Lubize, in 1783?

Tungsten is an incredibly important element. Having the highest melting point of any element, it is extremely hard and durable, used in light bulbs, x-ray tubes, as piercing armament, and catalysts. Tungsten is also proposed as an important material for ITER, the demonstration fusion reactor being built in France.

sello_189187The Elhuyar brothers were born in Logroño, La Rioja (Juan in 1754 and Fausto in 1755) to French-Basque parents from Hasparren, France, in the Basque province of Lapurdi. Fausto, at least, became a professor at the University of Vergara and later founded the School of Mines in Mexico City.

Today, the Elhuyar Foundation is dedicated to bringing together science and the Basque language.

Tungsten, officially known as wolfram, is a Swedish word that means “heavy stone” while wolfram means something like “wolf’s froth/cream”, as a consequence of the extraction process of a mineral containing tungsten. If the Elhuyar brothers had given it a Basque name, maybe we’d now be calling it harri-astuna or otso-apar.

The Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia has more details (in Spanish) on both Juan and Fausto, including short videos.

Talk at Jaialdi: In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador

Here is news about another talk taking place at Jaialdi, also on July 30th, at 10am. This was sent to me by Aimar Arizmendi, one of the organizers of the talk and the expedition.

In The Footsteps of Basque Whalers In Newfoundland and Labrador is an expedition by boat, slated for 2017 and open to the public that will visit the sites and celebrate the legacy of the first Basques in the new world: The venerable Basque whalers who arrived in Newfoundland following codfish and whale at least as early as the beginning of the 16th century. This expedition will mark the opening of a new cultural route, the first one ever built around the vestiges of historical Basque whaling in eastern Canada.

There will be a special Jaialdi presentation about this expedition featuring local author of historical fiction Christine Echeverria Bender at The Grove Hotel on Thursday, July 30th at 10:00 a.m. More information at www.basquewhalers.info

Inviacion Boise July 30th  (3)

Did you know…?

Bilbao, the capital of Bizkaia, was known for its steel. So well known that a type of sword popular in England and America was called a bilbo, after the Basque city. (In Basque, the name of Bilbao is Bilbo…)  In Basque, they were called Labana Bizkaitarrak. These swords were made in Bilbao and exported widely.

This sword was popular because it was typically well forged and very flexible.

Bilboes also refers to a type of shackles, put around the ankles to immobilize people. While it isn’t so obvious that the name of these shackles also comes from the Basque city, the fact that they were made of steel suggests it is possible. Joseba Zulaika, in his book That Old Bilbao Moon, suggests the same origin for the name. However, these devices were in use before Bilbao started exporting steel to England. In any case, these bilboes have a dark history, used to confine prisoners and slaves.

240px-Bilbo_Baggins_Tolkien_illustrationThe most famous Bilbo, these days, is Bilbo Baggins, of The Hobbit fame. While it isn’t clear where J. R. R. Tolkien got the name for his character, at one point Bilbo finds a sword, called Sting, that plays an immensely important role in the story of Mr. Baggins. It is possible that Tolkien named his character after the sword or, maybe more probable, was inspired by the name he had chosen for his character to outfit him with a sword.

The photo of bilbo, the sword, not Bilbo, the hobbit, linked to above is from this site. The image of Bilbo Baggins was taken from Wikipedia, but drawn by Tolkien.

More information about Gure Esku Dago talk

Jon Camio, one of the speakers at the Together or Nothing at All conference during Jaialdi, sent me some more information about the  event. The Agirre Center, where ex-Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe is now based, has posted more details about the conference. You can find that information here.

jaildi talk

Talk on Gure Esku Dago at Jaialdi

Gure Esku Dago is an effort to provide the Basque Country the right to decide its own future. The goal is to hold a referendum on independence. A signature hallmark of the movement is the long human chains that have extended across Euskadi to promote the goals of Gure Esku Dago. This website provides a video, in English, describing the goals of Gure Esku Dago and their plan of action. Another video can be found here, on YouTube.

On July 30th, from 4:30-6:00pm, at the Grove Hotel in Boise, there will be a talk about Gure Esku Dago and Basque public opinion. There will also be a presentation on former Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe’s new book The Basque Experience. The talk will discuss Gure Esku Dago and the motivation of the movement.

If you’re going to be in Boise for Jaialdi on July 30, a great way to spend the afternoon would be to attend this presentation. Details are below.

jaildi talk

Behind the Cultures of the Basque Soccer Friendly

teams-300x151In his article at The Blue ReviewBeyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories — Mark Bieter takes the opportunity of the Basque Soccer Friendly, to be played this evening between Athletic Bilbao and Club Tijuana, to delve into the history of the two cultures these teams represent, the Basques and the Mexicans. Both have played an important role in the history of the American West and the economy of states like Idaho. A nice read that reminds us that, more often than not, people have more in common than we tend to realize.

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