Who are the Basques?
The Basques are an ancient sea-faring people
who have resided in the western Pyrenees of France and Spain for thousands of
years. They are one of the few remaining cultures in Europe that preceded the
migration that brought those who would later become the Romans, Germans,
Spanish, and the rest of modern Europe. The Basques speak a language – Euskara –
unrelated to any other language in the world. In fact, English and Spanish
are more closely related to each other than Basque is to any known language.
Through the centuries, the Basques have preserved their unique language and
The seven Basque provinces.
Today, the Basque Country, or Euskal Herria,
is composed of seven provinces which are arranged in three distinct parts.
Three provinces in Spain – Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa,
and Araba – compose the Basque Autonomous Community. The historically Basque
province of Navarre forms its own
community within Spain. The last three
provinces – Zuberoa, Lapurdi, and Behe-Nafarroa – lie on the French side of
The Basques & New Mexico
The Basques first came to the area that would
later become New
with the Spaniards who conquered and settled the region in the late 1500s.
Many, such as Juan de Oñate, played key roles during the colonial period. The
cultural heritage of the Basques in New Mexico is apparent in many of the family
names found in this area:
Abeyta, Aguirre, Anaya, Anchondo,
Apodaca, Anza, Archuleta, Arena, Arellano, Armendariz, Armenta, Aroztegui, Arriaga,
Azcárraga, Baca, Barrera, Cárdenas, Casados, Chivira, Echavarria, Escobar, Esquibel,
Eturraga, Garibay, Hechevarria, Heredia, Hurtado, Iturbe, Iturralde,
Jaramillo, Jauregui, Larrañaga, Larragoite, Lizarraga, Mendiola, Mendoza, Mondragón,
Montoya, Nuanes, Ochoa, Olachea, Olives, Oñate, Orozco, Perea, Perieri,
Quintana, Quintero, Renteria, Ruiz, Salazar, Segura, Salcedo, Solana, Solano,
Suazo, Tapia, Trevino, Ulibarri, Ulloa, Urbán, Urioste, Vazquez, Vizarraga,
Velasquez, Velarde, Vizcaino, Ybarra, Zabala, Zamarripa, Zertuche
More recently, many young Basques immigrated
to the American West, including Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, California – and New Mexico – to find work as
sheepherders. There was even a Basque Boarding House in Grants serving the
The lauburu - literally
“four heads” -
an ancient Basque symbol.
Basque Club in New
Today, Basque culture
is continuing a revival begun when Franco died in 1975. New Mexico is unique in the United States in that it has been
witness to both eras of Basque immigration: the original Spanish conquest and
the more recent appearance of the Basque sheepherder. In order to recognize,
preserve and celebrate this unique cultural heritage, we have formed a Basque
organization in New
with this purpose. We plan to promote Basque culture through cinema,
cuisine, music, guest lectures and trips to the Basque Country. We hope that
you and your family and friends will join us on this exciting journey and
become a part of this new club!