Nor Naiz, Gu Gara (Who I Am, We Are) is a series aiming to explore the meaning of Basque Identity around the world, both within Euskal Herria as well as in the diaspora. For an introduction to the series, look here, and for a list of the previous entries, look here.
For me, to be Basque is to have a Basque surname—a name that is tied to the land and house of your ancestors—a name that has lived on through the test of time. Even if one does not have a Basque name, one can still feel Basque. This feeling of being Basque runs real deep and is represented by these traits: hard work, brevity, independence and stubbornness. It represents being different—using creativity for innovation and change. A Basque is proud of their heritage and enjoys celebrating and sharing it with others. Being Basque is also using the language, Euskara— reading, writing, speaking and teaching it to others.
My Basque ancestors voyaged to the New World from Irun/Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa in the mid 16th century and settled throughout Latin America. I get my Basque heritage from my father, who is from Guatemala. In 2003, a distant relative reached out to my father and I from Hendaia with a bit of family history and the hope of uniting the greater Alcayaga family. It was not until 2008, when I decided to visit Euskal Herria for the first time to learn Basque and to meet with family.