Category Archives: News

Basques finally free to visit Iceland without fear of death

10929559_342159199324028_2431577313259576547_nYou may have already heard about this story, as it has been published in quite a few different places. You see, Iceland — or at least one district within Iceland, West Fjords — has had a law since the 1600s allowing for Basques to be killed on sight. It was only on April 22 of this year that the law was revoked, finally freeing Basques to visit without fear.

In the 1500 and 1600s, the Basques had a thriving whaling industry in Terra Nova, Labrador, and Iceland was a frequent stop on the way. In 1615, a group of Basques was stranded in Iceland after their ships were dashed against some rocks. Maybe because of some of these Basques taking some dried fish from a house, the Icelanders attacked them, first killing a group of 14 Basques and then later another group of 18. The local sheriff decreed that all Basques were criminals and that any Basques that stepped foot in the West Fjords should be killed on sight. What came to be called Spánverjavígin, or the “Spanish Killings”, was the last documented massacre on Iceland soil.

In April, there was a conference commemorating the event and, as part of that conference, the law was officially repealed. Finally.

Of course, many Basques have visited Iceland since then and not been in any harm what-so-ever. Repealing of the law is more a formality and a nice exchange between the Icelanders and Basques.

That said, my PhD advisor is an Icelander. I’m glad that, if I ever visit him in his home country, I won’t have to fear for my life.

Berriak for February, 2015

Here is a round-up of a few items I thought were notable.

463858986Inaki Williams became the first black player to score a goal for Athletic Bilbao in their 117 year history. You may know that Athletic Bilbao only recruits Basque players, players from the Basque Country. Inaki was born in Bilbao to parents from Ghana and Liberia. Clearly his parents have pride in their new home, as they named their son Inaki.

basque-soccer-friendly2Keeping with the soccer theme, there is an update on the effort to bring Basque soccer to Boise. The effort, lead by Argia Beristain, has secured participation by both sides. The teams have not been finalized, though it is likely to be the same Athletic Bilbao against a MLS team from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver). And, a date has been set: July 29! More details can be found here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 2.42.25 PMIrene Peralta of Munchies magazine has a five-part series on the food of the Basque Country. In 5 roughly 15 minute videos, she covers the txokos of San Sebastian, the markets, and some of the best restaurants in the world. A great introduction to Basque cuisine.

51ERBzMF2ULBegoña Echeverria is a professor at the University of California, Riverside, who has had a long interest in Basque culture and, more specifically, the world of Basque witches. Her researches led her down a path that has culminated in a novel, The Hammer of Witches. Inspired in part by songs she heard as a child, the novel explores the life of a young woman in a small Basque town that has its share of mystery.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 3.02.06 PMCanoe.ca has a series of photos of the ancient carnival of Ituren, in which men dress up as bears and other mystical creatures, a carnival centered on sheepherding. Some anthropologists argue that it is the oldest pre-Indo-European carnival still being practiced in Europe. Regardless of the origins, the photos are simply fantastic. Taking place at the end of every January, this looks like something to make a trip for.

musean.jpgThe site fivethirtyeight has an interesting article about games for kids, with the main point that a lot of kids’ games (think Candyland) do not really challenge kids in any real way. Interestingly, they highlight the Basque card game Mus as a game that does challenge kids and is highly rated precisely for the way it encourages critical thinking and mental skills.

Basque News Roundup

Here are some recent stories I found particularly interesting.

elhuyarIn September, Elhuyar will publish the 300th issue of its science journal, Elhuyar Zientzia eta TeknologiaThe journal was created in 1974 to promote the use of Basque in technical and scientific fields. More info here.

Elhuyar is an organization named after the Basque Elhuyar brothers, who in 1783 isolated the element tungsten for the first time.

 

alonso_cycling-300x304

The Basque cycling team, Euskadi-Euskaltel, was in danger of loosing its sponsor, Euskaltel, the Basque telecommunications company. You might recognize the bright orange jersey the Euskaltel riders wear. Fernando Alonso, a formula one race car driver (who is currently second in the F1 world championship race), has agreed to take over the team. Alonso is also a past winner of the F1 championships. His involvement provides some assurance that the Basque riding team will continue on. More info here.

 

biarritz-pier_1809855cIf you are planning a trip to the Basque Country any time soon, these two articles might give some inspiration. First, Alice Short writes in the LA Times about her adventure in the food of the Basque Country, from the now famous Arzak to a few random and pleasant discoveries.  Then, Fiona Duncan describes her discovery of Biarritz, now a thriving surfing city, and the rest of the Côte Basque.

MARIA-NEWPORT-SHIPDendrochronology is the study of the age of wood and is used to both identify the age and origin of wood, for example used to make boats. Dendrochronology has been used to identify the origins of a ship found in the bay of Newport, in the United Kingdom and it has been determined that the ship, indeed, had origins in the Basque Country. More info here.

Big Basque News: Basque World Heritage Site and .eus Basque Internet Domain

Two big news items related to Basques this week.

redbay20nw1First, long time contributor David Cox, who also happens to be Canadian (we don’t hold that against him), sent this article about the possibility of the Red Bay National Historic Site in Labrador becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Canadian Officials are currently lobbying UNESCO to make that site, and another in Canada, World Heritage Sites. Red Bay is home to a 16th century Basque outpost on the eastern coast of Canada. Drawn initially by cod, it seems, the Basque sailors found whales as well and setup the site to process the whales. The site has been excavated and a cemetery, a number of ships both large and small, and processing stations. The article points out that the establishment of this processing center in Canada marked the beginning of commercial whaling and that establishing it as a World Heritage Site would indicate “that the story of the Basque Whaling in Red Bay is a story that should be protected and presented for all humanity.” To get a feel for what it might have been like for Basques living in Labrador in the 1500s, check out the Last Will and Testament of Juan Martinez de Larrume.

logo_enSecond, as some of you may now, there has been an effort for quite some time now to get a top-level domain (think .net, .com, .edu, .es) on the internet for things Basque. I’ve featured a link in the top right corner of my page to the group that is advancing this cause, The PuntuEus Foundation. A couple of weeks back, ICANN, the organization that decides these things, approved the creation of the .eus domain. Now, there is a corner of the web dedicated to things Basque. If a site ends in .eus, you will know it is Basque related. Having a domain like .eus will aid groups in promoting Basque culture and language. Thanks to Pedro Oiarzabal for pointing this out to me. Zorionak PuntuEus!

BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal

Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 8.23.13 PMThe now defunct Journal of Basque Studies in America was a journal published by Society of Basque Studies in America to promote Basque culture by publishing in English articles that would be of interest to a wider American audience. The goal was to essentially disseminate information about Basque culture that otherwise would not make it to an English speaking audience. That journal, which ended publication in 2011, was transferred to Boise State University and its Basque Studies Program.

Fast forward to today and the journal has been reincarnated as BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal. BOGA has the same basic aims as the Journal of Basque Studies in America, but with a bit more rigorous peer review. Those aims are nicely summarized on the BOGA website:

This journal aims to be a part of the long-standing tradition of Basque higher education as symbolized by the Basque Country’s first university built in Oñati, Gipuzkoa in 1548 (incorporated into our website theme). The town of Oñati also holds additional significance for Boise State University’s Basque Studies Program because it served as the first location for the studies abroad program in the Basque Country in the 1970s. This journal is a multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed academic publication dedicated to the scholarly study of all aspects of Basque culture with the aspiration to foster a better understanding of Basque culture and heritage in its diverse aspects by disseminating original works of interest to an English speaking audience and to encourage interaction–learning links–among academics from various learning traditions; e.g., linguistic, philosophical, anthropological, ethnological, historic, literary, artistic, religious, economic, cultural, international relations, etc. The Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza stated that to move forward, one had to look backward, and that is conceptualized by the rowboat image as the rowers make progress while looking behind. This journal hopes to contribute to the shared “rowing” effort among institutions and individuals to mutually support efforts in Basque Studies.

Many familiar names are associated with the journal, including: John Ysursa, William Douglass, Pedro Oiarzabal, Sam Zengotitabengoa, and Joseba Zulaika, among many more.

The inaugural issue is not online yet, but promises to have very interesting perspectives on a number of Basque topics, if the articles that appeared in the Journal of Basque Studies in America is any indication.

I’m personally very excited to see the launch of this new effort. There are a lot of aspects of Basque culture, history, and linguistics that simply are inaccessible to people who do not speak Basque or Spanish. This journal will provide a vehicle for at least some of those ideas and discoveries to reach an English audience.

Zorionak!

To Say Goodbye, an update

Late last year, I posted about To Say Goodbye, a film by Izaskun Arandia detailing the evacuation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. Izaskun has interviewed a number of these children, now adults, as part of the documentary. The film is about half way finished and she hopes to premier it at the San Sebastian Film Festival this September.

Towards that end, the film needs further funding and Izaskun has started a second crowdfunding campaign. Here’s a link to the funding effort and a little teaser clip of the animation.