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Subdeacon Joe

Basque Sheep Herders

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https://www.canyoncountryzephyr.com/2019/12/01/the-other-lonely-rangers-the-forgotten-lives-of-americas-basque-sheepherders-by-tonya-audyn-stiles/?fbclid=IwAR1-AQ5yFznGasjfGvor-M9C_4LToqvI_Wqhh2y0JFKiWsOPL1i9ZYf1Fps

 

The Lost War for the American Range

…the sheepmen of the Sierra Nevada are for the most part a lot of irresponsible Basques, who own no other property than their sheep; they pay no taxes, evading them by moving.”

 -The California Cultivator and Livestock and Dairy Journal. 1899

Very little survives of the era of Basques in the American West. The fading stencil of the word “BASQUE” lingers on crumbling brick facades in Nevada. At scattered addresses throughout Idaho and California, a few curiously named hotels—the Pyrenees, the Noriega, Des Alpes—don’t seem to fit among the region’s otherwise identifiable ethnic blend of Cowboy White/Hispanic/Native American. All over the West, little artifacts of this strange “other” culture abound, but they’re easily missed.

Like the bakery in Bishop, California that sells a distinctive Basque bread. Or like a yearly street fair in Boise, Idaho that still celebrates San Inazio of Loyola. That most-revered saint of the Basques was born in the mountains of Spain, at Loyola, and he founded the Jesuit order in the 16thcentury, so why should he be celebrated in Idaho? Among other things, San Inazio described for his followers a practice of meditation and contemplation that could sustain a man’s mind through hours of solitude.

The man from Loyola must have provided some comfort for those thousands of his countrymen who settled in America—Basque sheepmen who called upon him from the peaks of the Sierra Mountains, from the quiet fields of Wyoming, or the lonely extents of the Nevada rangelands.

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I remember seeing signs of the Basque in South East Oregon when travelling along US 95. There were several business that had Basque in their name and I think there was even a wide spot in the road named Basque.

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My grandfather was 100% Basque, born and raised in the town of Gorliz in the province of Vizcaya (Biscay). He left the old country when he was sixteen as a cabin boy in a sailing ship.  He passed away in 1944 when I was two.   I still wish I could have sat with him and listen him tell me about his travels as a young man.  Several years ago I tried my hand at the Basque language (Euskara) but decided it would be easier to learn Martian!  

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Lots of Basques still in southern California around Ontario, Pomona, and Upland.  Knew three brothers who were all cops in the area, name of Yteraldi.  (SP?  The Y was silent.)  Never knew of any that were sheep herders, but they ate a lot of mutton.  Basque restaurant in Pomona served some really great food, not necessarily mutton because I got some fine steak there a few times.  The only down side was that the parking lot was a great place to get mugged or to get into a fight.  Those guys were hell on wheels with a knife.

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Don't forget the Baque sheep herders in Idaho. One of the best part of packing in for elk is having dinner with a Basque sheep herder with a dutch oven chock full of awesome food.  :D

 

I enter a lot of dutch oven contests using some of my favouite Basque recipes. They have heklped me win my share of trophies!  :P

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Posted (edited)

Northern Nevada still has a large Basque presence. Restaurants, festivals, and traditional sheepherders in their wagons. Reno and Elko hold annual festivals. Basque restaurants are fun to go to. Especially if they are still the traditional family style seating. They wait until there's a group of around 10 or 12, strangers or know each other, and seat you all at one table. You will not walk away hungry. Very basic good food with homemade wine. The language is it's own. But to me sounds both French, Spanish, Portuguese. The drink they are known for is a Pecan. Two or 3 of these babies and you're speaking Basque.

Ike

Edited by irish ike, SASS #43615

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I wonder if wandering the area would reveal traditional Basque dishes. One that I recall is salt cod which might have a parallel from the pacific. One theory is that the Basque discovered the abundance of cod off the New England coast in the 14th century or earlier and brought it back to Europe salted to preserve it.  
 

being true fishermen, they never revealed the source of their catch.

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