Nor Naiz, Gu Gara: José Antonio Alcayaga III

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.

2 thoughts on “Nor Naiz, Gu Gara: José Antonio Alcayaga III”

  1. Kaixo!

    Thank you for your outreach!

    Have you ever heard of Joanes Alkaiaga Lartaun?

    Together with his valiant wife Inés de Bazán y Aróstegui,
    and a bunch of other Spaniards, he founded the colony
    (now provincial capital) of Chiloé, in Chile, in 1565,
    but, knowing that he would never return to Spain,
    he formally asked permission to use the name of his
    home town, Oiartzun, as surname, so that his descendants
    would never forget their origin. Today there are
    hundreds or more “Oyarzunes” (including myself)
    who are descended from Joanes Alkaiaga.

    There is a very real possibility now, that my small family,
    currently resident in Portland, Oregon, might migrate to
    the Basque Iparralde, and I would find it extremely auspicious
    if I could find living descendants of that same Joanes.

    In recent weeks I have been searching, but I find it very hard
    to contact actual living humans, as opposed to databases, etc.

    Can you think of someone  — yourself included —
    whom I might ask?

    Yours Truly,

    Francisco José Oyarzun S.

    1. Kaixo Francisco, I took a look at a copy of the Alcayaga family tree that Marisol Alcayaga Garmendia created, and yes, I see Esteban and Maria Lartaun listed above the place Oiartzun. My email is, and as I mentioned in my recent reply, I created the Facebook page, Alcayagas del Mundo/Alcayagas of the World. There are over 1.7k members from all over the world and many, many from Chile. My father is from Guatemala so I come from that lineage. It would be great to connect with you!

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