North American Basque Organizations, Incorporated (NABO), was founded
in 1974 with the objective to promote and preserve cultural and
social activities of the Basque people; to cultivate understanding
and friendship between Basques themselves and between Basques and
non-Basques; to educate and enlighten the public about Basque themes;
and to advance open communications between Basques in the United
States and Basques around the world. It is a service organization
to the Basque associations in the United States that are members
of this collaborative union. Before the 1970s it was quite unusual
for Basques in the American West to create exchanges or to travel
the long distances to each other's functions. Today, because of
the networks established, it is not unusual for Basques from San
Francisco to drive the twelve hours to arrive for Boise's Jai Aldi,
or for Boiseans to drive seven hours to the Reno Basque Festival.
NABO organizes Basque cultural and educational activities, and sport
and card-playing competitions between the associations of the United
States. It functions similarly to a confederation because it may
not infringe on the autonomy of any individual Basque Center, and
these organizations can choose to participate in joint projects,
or they may completely abstain.
Each of the member Basque organizations is self-funded and does
not depend on any public subsidy. Each creates its own fund-raisers,
charges a small fee to members, and charges participants for activities.
Basque cultural functions are well attended by the non-Basque population
throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Utah,
Wyoming, and New York, and the Basque Center events are utilized
as an educational tool for non-Basques. However, as the generations
are now farther away from the actual emigrant from Euskal Herria,
often the Basque Centers and clubs must educate their own members
concerning Basque topics from the homeland. Many Basques in the
United States do not know anything about the history of their ancestors'
emigration from Europe, nor are they familiar with the history of
Basques in the United States.
1st NABO President.
There are currently thirty-five different Basque organizations
in the United States that are members. The Vancouver, Canada club
is also associated with NABO and its members are invited to participate
in collective functions and celebrations. In 2002, another group
of Basques from Montreal have also inquired about joining the NABO.
Each Center has its own history and particular interests, but all
share in the common goal to preserve the Basque language and Basque
culture. All have elected Boards of Directors who serve voluntarily,
and have various committees of volunteers who organize dinners,
dances, euskara classes, Basque cuisine classes, choirs, dantzari
taldeak, tournaments of mus and briska, and pelota championships.
NABO's function is to sponsor activities and events beyond the
scope of the individual clubs, and to promote exchanges between
Basque-Americans and the Basque Country. The three major inter-club
events are the annual handball tournament, the annual mus tournament,
and a summer music camp for Basque youth called "Udaleku".
The first regional pelota tournament was held in 1976, and in 1981
players representing NABO traveled to Mexico City for the amateur
world championships. The mus tournament followed in 1977, and NABO
soon hosted the world mus championship in San Francisco (1979) Las
Vegas (1986), San Francisco (1997), and Boise (2001).
NABO has also created networks with the Basque Autonomous Community's
government and various institutions, as well as those in Nafarroa
and Iparralde, which have provided many clubs with educational materials,
performers from the Basque Country to enliven festivals, language
teachers, and scholarships for university studies, and grants for
Basque Center projects. It does have good relations with the government
of Euskadi and the Office of Relations with Basque Communities Abroad
in the Lehendakaritza. Several institutions in Iparralde have relations
with NABO clubs, mostly those in California, for sending pelotaris,
chefs, language teachers, and dance instructors. There have been
fewer contacts or exchanges with institutions in Nafarroa.
The financial support for NABO activities comes from membership
dues, fees, various-fundraising events such as publishing and selling
the Basque calendars, Basque Government grants, and from donations.
Delegates from each club meet three times a year. The annual convention
for the election of officers is held during the summer, hosted by
one of the clubs to coincide with their festival.
Its annual activities include the Udaleku, similar to the adolescent
colonias offered to teenagers in the Basque Country. The first NABO
music camp was held in 1977. That year three separate camps were
organized: one in San Francisco, one in Reno, and one in Boise,
under the spirited leadership of the late Jon Oñatibia. In
1978 the regional camps were combined into one, and the following
year Luis Manuel Pe-Menchaca arrived from Europe to teach the txistu,
beginning many years of loyal and dedicated service to the Basques
of the United States. In the 1990s, various instructors from Euskal
Herria and from around the United States have served as instructors
for the participants. The NABO Udaleku program offers two weeks
of instruction in Basque dancing, singing, accordion, tambourine,
mus, pelota, history, cuisine, txalaparta, and language. Many of
othe youngsters are third or fourth generation Basques who do not
have much knowledge about Euskal Herria or about Basque culture
except to know that they are Basque by heritage. This camp gathers
Basque youth from around the United States and gives them the opportunity
to meet other Basques of their own age, to learn new information
and skills that they can then take back to their own Basque communities
in order disseminate the knowledge. The number of Udaleku participants
varies from 40-80 and the camps are held in the summer, rotating
between different clubs in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and California.
The 2002 Reno, Nevada camp had seventy-one students.
The Kantari Eguna is held in Gardnerville, Nevada and is enjoyed
by all music lovers. Bertsolaris, choirs, and instrumental musicians
participate with pieces of original music and lyric, and also with
established Basque music. In some years there have been competitions
with prizes and in others, the artists perform for exhibition only.
NABO organizes an annual pelota championship with players from the
Centers in California, Idaho and Nevada. Though several of the Centers
in other States have frontons, many are in disrepair and there are
not enough players who can practice in order to compete. Mus tournaments
are the highlight of the year for many members with each club organizing
their own tournament to send their winners on to the NABO National
Championships. The winners of the NABO tournament then participate
in the International World Mus Tournament. The 2001 World Mus Tournament
was held in July at the euskal etxea in Boise, Idaho. An annual
calendar project displays photography from the homeland and from
events of the United States Basques' activities. The calendar mixes
French, Spanish, Euskara, and English and notifies of all clubs'
events, summer picnics, dances, and annual festivals. The newsletter
Hizketa is published three times a year and besides giving current
events information regarding NABO and individual NABO clubs, it
also educates the reader on topics of euskara, and homeland history,
anthropology, and culture. Individual diaspora Basques are interested
in the movement for euskara, and NABO promotes language classes
in each of the member organizations. Several clubs have Basque language
classes and Boise has its own ikastola for twenty-seven children,
The number of Basque organizations in the United States is actually
increasing, as are the membership numbers of those affiliated with
Basque Centers and associations. In the 1980's there were twenty
member clubs of NABO, and in 2001 there are thirty-five clubs. Basques
in the United States are enthusiastic about educating the public
in regards to Basque language, culture, history, and traditions.
When the Lehendakari Ardanza stated that the Basques in the diaspora
are Euskal Herria's ambassadors, he spoke a truth with enormous
yet untapped potential.
Center for Basque Studies
University of Nevada Reno