The Society of Basque Studies in America
Gloria Totoricagüena Egurrola
Gloria Totoricagüena Egurrola 

This non-profit organization was founded by Dr. Emilia Sarriugarte Doyaga, Dr. Gloria Castresana Waid, and Dr. Juan Mendizabal in 1979 in San Francisco, California with the goal of promoting Basque academic studies in the United States. A few years later, Waid and Mendizabal left the Society to form their own Basque American Foundation in Fresno, California. The Society of Basque Studies in America has continued its mission with Doyaga, Anna Mari Aguirre, and José Ramon Cengotitabengoa leading its numerous international membership, and now also works to disseminate information regarding Basque culture, traditions, customs and folklore to the English speaking audiences of the world. The membership of the Society is open to all who are interested in such topics and it does not function as a traditional Basque center as the euskal etxeak do, but instead is focused on academic research and investigations and the spreading of that information to a larger English speaking community. The Society serves to transcend physical geography and adds to the imagination of a Basque community that is not dependent on physical interaction of its members, but instead on the common interest in Basque studies.

The Society of Basque Studies is engaged in many activities throughout the year. They are represented by Dr. Doyaga (New York City) and Cengotitabengoa (Chicago) to the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) and its conferences three times each year. The Society representatives inform the other NABO delegates about upcoming publications, their Basque Hall of Fame awards, and special projects which they direct. They serve as essential links for the Basque communities from the eastern part of the United States to the Basque communities and organizations in the American West.

The Journal of the Society of Basque Studies in America is published annually by the Society, and its Editors have included Dr. Leonard Bloom in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Dr. Jerónima Echeverria in Fresno, California; and Dr. John Ysursa in Chino, California. All scholars are invited to submit their research. If a person would like to submit a manuscript for consideration, they are asked to prepare a ten to twenty page double-spaced document with adequate citations utilizing the Microsoft Word format. They may forward a copy via e-mail to The deadline for manuscript submission is October 1st of each calendar year. Academics and writers from the Basque Country and the United States make up the majority of the submissions, however, there are specialists from other countries that also submit their writings to the Journal. This scholarly periodical is sent to the Society's membership, and to the most important university libraries in the United States, with articles written in Basque, French, Spanish, and English.

Among other projects, the Society has sponsored: the First International Basque Congress in North America in 1982; an exhibition in Chicago of three outstanding Basque sculptors, a series of musical concerts, the creation of the National Basque Sheepherders' Monument In Reno, Nevada, academic conferences on Basque topics, and the building and gifting of an authentic trainera from Basques in the Americas to the Basques of Euskal Herria.

In 1984 the officers of the Society, including President of the Society, José Ramon Cengotitabengoa, sponsored three of the most significant Basque Country artists' participation in the International Exposition of Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. The sculptures of Néstor Basterrechea, Vicente Larrea, and Remigio Mendiburu were displayed and presented via a slide presentation given by Dr. Emilia Doyaga, and supported by a representative of the Basque Government's Ministry of Education and Culture, José María Vélez de Mendizabal. For many observers, this was their introduction to Basque art and artists, and they were positively overwhelmed. This international exposure led to subsequent invitations and exhibitions for many Basque artists.

The Society then decided to promote and organize a major work of public art in order to honor the Basque sheepherder in the United States. The Society is especially proud of its sponsorship of the National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder in Reno, Nevada - a tribute, long overdue to Basque pioneers and a symbol that reflects Basque character. For several years José Ramon Cengotitabengoa worked tirelessly traveling to the Basque communities in the western states explaining the idea of raising sufficient funding to erect a monument in praise of the pioneer Basques. Reno, Nevada was chosen for the monument site and Néstor Basterrechea was selected as the artist. The sculpture was created in Basterrechea's foundry in Mexico, and then transported in pieces by truck to Reno, Nevada. In August 1989, more than two thousand people celebrated in the inauguration ceremonies with the Society of Basque Studies in America committee, Carmelo Urza of the Basque Studies Program University of Nevada, Reno, Néstor Basterrechea, and Josu Legarreta representing the Basque Government of the Basque Autonomous Community. The central governments of Spain and France added their financial support to that of private individuals memorializing their family members, as well as Basque centers which donated funds in recognition of their ancestors who had built the positive reputation for Basques.

For the first time in Basque maritime history, and with the support of the Society of Basque Studies in America, an eighteenth century traditional Basque fishing boat (trainera) was built in Maine, inaugurated in New York, and returned to the Basque Country as a gift of gratitude to the land of Basque heritage. The trainera was celebrated in every port from Bilbao to Bayonne.

Every year since 1981 the Society of Basque Studies in America has recognized individuals and organizations that have contributed positively to the Basque image in the world with induction into their Basque Hall of Fame. The following have been selected for his international honor:

1981-1ST ANNUAL: Milford, Connecticut
· Lehendakari Jose Antonio de Aguirre Lecube
· Yon Oñatibia Audela
· Pedro Mir

1982-2ND ANNUAL: Milford, Connecticut
· Valentin Aguirre
· Jose Mari Iparraguirre
· Juan Estanislau Maiztegui

1983-3RD ANNUAL: Queens, New York
· Jose Altuna
· Idaho Secretary of State Pete T. Cenarrusa
· Rev. Francisco de Madina

1984-4TH ANNUAL: Elko, Nevada
· Pedro Altube
· Domingo Ansotegui
· Dominique Laxalt

1985-5TH ANNUAL: Boise, Idaho
· Juanita Uberuaga Hormaechea
· John Bastida
· John B. Archabal

1986-6TH ANNUAL: Bakersfield, California
· Rev. Jean-Pierre Cachenaut
· Joe Garat
· Thomas Iribarren
· Frank Maitia, Sr.

1987-7TH ANNUAL: Miami, Florida
· Juan Vizcaino Lacoza
· Jesus "Chucho" Larrañga
· Sol Rosenkranz
· Juan Saizarbitoria

1988-8TH ANNUAL: Euzko Etxea, New York
· Euzko Etxea of New York
· Albert Uriarte
· Juan Sebastian de Elcano
· Dr. Jon Bilbao

1989-9TH ANNUAL: Reno, Nevada
· Center of Basque Studies University of Nevada, Reno
· Gorka Aulestia
· Dr. William A. Douglass
· Robert Laxalt

1990-10TH ANNUAL: Tampa, Florida
· José Luis Angulo Ibarretxe
· International Jai Alai Players Association
· Dorothy Legarreta

1991-11TH ANNUAL: South San Francisco, California
· Louis Elu
· Lyda Esain
· Ricardo Galbis

1992-12TH ANNUAL: Chino, California
· John Garamendi
· Henry Bachoc
· Marianna Etcheverria

1993-13TH ANNUAL: Reno, Nevada
· John A. Elorriaga
· The Unanue Family
· North American Basque Organizations, Inc.
· Dr. Linda White
· Robert Erburu

1994-14TH ANNUAL: Boise, Idaho
· United States Senator Frank Church
· Joseph V. Eiguren
· James Jausoro
· Euzkaldunak, Inc.

1995-15TH ANNUAL: Boise, Idaho
· John J. Ascuaga
· Adelia Garro Simplot
· Anthony Yturri

1996-16TH ANNUAL: Mexico City, Mexico
· Fray Juan de Zumarraga
· Colegio de las Vizcainas
· Martin Garcia Urtiaga
· Centro Vasco, A.C. Mexico City

1997-17TH ANNUAL: Buffalo, Wyoming
· Jeanette Esponda Maxwell and the Radio KBBS Basque Program commentators:
· Pierre Amestoy
· Martin Camino
· Juan Cinquambre
· Bernard Etchemendy
· Jeanne Marie Etchemendy
· Rosalia Maya de Ibara
· Domingo Martirena
· Grayce Esponda Miller

1998-18TH ANNUAL: Bakersfield, California
· Jean & Rose Erassarret
· Mayie Maitia
· Grace Laporte Elizalde
· Dr. Carmelo Urza

1999-19TH ANNUAL: Euzko Etxea, New York
· Irene Renteria Aguirre
· Andoni Aguirre
· Alys Vina
· Angel Vina
13 Founders of Euzko Etxea of New York - First Incorporated Basque Center of the United States:
· Juan Cruz Aguirre
· Valentín Aguirre
· Elias Aguirre
· Gabriel Elustondo
· Guillermo Garay
· Florencio Yturraspe
· Nicolás Luzuriaga
· Juan Orbe
· Escolástico Uriona
· Tiburcio Uruburu
· José Altuna
· Toribio Altuna
· Estanislao Beobide

2000-20TH ANNUAL: Necochea, Argentina
· General Mariano Necochea
· Euskal Etxea Asociacion de Beneficencia y Cultural, 1900
· Comite Pro-Inmigracion Vasca, 1940

2001--21st ANNUAL: New York City
MARK KURLANSKY- December 7, 1948 -

Internationally known author Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut on December 7, 1948, the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Central Europe. He received a BA in theater in 1970 and began a career in New York as a playwright. Although he had a number of productions his interests turned away from theater and toward journalism. During the 1970's he worked as a correspondent in Western Europe for the Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and eventually the International Herald Tribune. He covered a number of pivotal events in Spanish history including the end of the Franco years and the transition years. It was during those years that he got to know and admire the Basques.

In 1982 he left Europe and moved to Mexico City where he reported on Mexico, the wars in Central America, and South America. In 1984 he began covering the Caribbean for the Chicago Tribune-reporting regularly on Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica but also on the smaller islands. In 1992, his first book, A Continent of Islands: In Search of the Caribbean Destiny, was published by Addison Wesley. He then returned to Paris to work on his next book, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry which was published in 1995 by Addison Wesley. Although during these years he spent most of his time researching Jewish communities in Western and Central Europe, he also took time to regularly reacquaint himself with the Basque Country.

In 1997, Walker and Company published his third book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, an international best seller translated into more than 15 languages. In that book he wrote a great deal about Basque maritime history and found that often these were among the passages readers and reviewers found most interesting. In 1999 Walker published The Basque History of the World, which was an American and Canadian Best Seller and was translated into several European languages.

In 2000 his first book of fiction, a collection of short stories about the Caribbean, The White Man in the Tree was published by Washington Square Press. The New York Times wrote "As rich, complex, and delicious as the islands themselves, boiling with humanity." In 2001, The Cod's Tale, a children's version of his cod book was published by Putnam. Currently Walker is publishing another history book in which the Basques play an important part, Salt: A World History. He is currently working on a novel set in New York City and a history of the year 1968 around the world both to be published by Ballantine. "I regard the work I have done on the Basques to be among my best accomplishments. To make people aware of something little known and completely misunderstood, to be able to set the record straight on a maligned people, is as good a reason for writing as I can think of," says Mark Kurlansky. The Basque people are grateful for his talents and the attention his works brings to Basque studies.

Dr. Gloria Totoricagüena Egurrola, Center for Basque Studies. University of Nevada, Reno

Euskonews & Media 214. zbk (2003 / 06 / 13-20)

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