Basque Fact of the Week: Uberuaga Island

Basque names are unusual and often striking, immediately recognizable. And generally they are rare, particularly on maps. So, it is pretty cool when your distant cousin is recognized for her career by having an island named after her. Maybe that should be on my bucket list – to visit Uberuaga Island.

Julia Uberuaga with her Cat, stationed at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Uberuaga Island is located by the red point. Photo of Julia found on The Antarctic Sun.
  • Uberuaga Island is one of several volcanic islands that make up what is collectively known as the Dailey Islands. Discovered by a British expedition in 1901-1904, the group of islands, which sits a few miles from Cape Chocolate, were named after the expedition’s carpenter Fred Dailey.
  • Uberuaga Island is about half a mile long and is the easternmost of the Dailey Islands.
  • The island is named for Julia Mary Uberuaga. From 1979-99, Julia made 20 consecutive Antarctic seasonal deployments working for contractors in support of U.S. Antarctic Project (USAP). At the beginning, she worked as a general field assistant. For the rest of her deployments, she was a heavy equipment operator, the last few seasons operating a Caterpillar D7 Pearl on the McMurdo Ice Shelf.
  • When Julia began her first deployment in Antarctica, at the age of 24, she was one of the few women in a place otherwise dominated by men. As she recalled, it was more than a challenging experience, but she loved the landscape and there were promises of promotion, so she stuck it out. By the time she was in her last deployment, twenty years later, women comprised some one third of the work force at McMurdo Station.
  • McMurdo Station is the primary settlement run by the United States in Antartica. It can support about 1500 people. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and established in 1955, the station supports a wide range of scientific activity: “aeronomy, astrophysics and geospace sciences, biology and ecosystems, geology and geophysics, glaciology, geomorphology, ice cores, and ocean and climate systems.”
  • Julia’s grandfather, Domingo Uberuaga, was from Munitibar/Gerrikaitz-Arbatzegi. He was one of three Uberuaga brothers that emigrated from the Basque Country to the United States, settling in the state of Idaho. There was a fourth brother who stayed in the Basque Country who was my great-grandfather.

Thanks to Damiana Uberuaga for suggesting this topic for a fact! If you have an idea, please let me know.

4 thoughts on “Basque Fact of the Week: Uberuaga Island”

  1. Thannks for posting this Blas. and you too Dolores. Just told Julie of it, she is very low tech, so she may not see it until she comes off the mountain and into Boise…

  2. I worked in Antarctica for 38 years. there were occasional Basques who worked there. It was a cold, character building place. Magnificent and vast. I don’t think that I’m a distant relative blas. I knew Monika and Pete. I’m not that distant. Come visit me in garden valley, my mountain lair .jules

    1. Thanks for replying, Jules! I guess distant only in that we didn’t really know each other when I was growing up. It is amazing what you accomplished! Someday, maybe you’ll tell your story?

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