200 Zenbakia 2003-02-14 / 2003-02-21


Udaleku: North American Basque Organizations Basque Culture Camp


Udaleku: North American Basque Organizations Basque Culture Camp Gloria Totoricagüena Egurrola The North American Basque Organizations (NABO) officially incorporated under Nevada State laws on April 19, 1974, with the intentions of preserving Basque culture and improving communications between Basques in various communities in the United States. Elected and appointed delegates from Basque communities began their work of creating networks of communication and assistance between Basque clubs. Founding clubs included San Francisco Basque Club, Ely Basque Club of Nevada, Kern County Basque Club of Bakersfield, California, Emmett Basque Club of Idaho, Basque Girls' Club of Ontario, Oregon, and the Euzkaldunak, Inc. of Boise, Idaho. Since those early days the bonds between Basques in the United States have been strengthened and extended with the creation of various projects. The annual music camp, sponsored by NABO, has contributed much to this growth and has provided an arena for Basque youth in the United States to meet each other and compare their Basque communities. The first music camp, organized and funded by the Idaho Basque Studies Center, was held in Boise, Idaho at the Bogus Basin Ski Resort lodge in the summer of 1975. Instructors included Jimmy Jausoro and Harley Rott on the accordion, and Angel Viña, of New York, on the txistu. Leaders Isabel Larrondo Jausoro and Anes Jayo Mendiola also taught Basque language, cooking, singing, and culture classes. Oinkari Basque Dancers from Boise taught Basque folk dance. The first music camp had thirty participants. Since then, hundreds of young Basques have gathered for two weeks each summer in a different city of the extended Basque community in the United States. Under the direction of local and visiting talent from Europe, participants study Basque folk dance, music (either txistu or accordion), singing, games (such as the card game mus) and sports such as pelota and pala. Besides being a good learning experience, the camp offers the participants a great opportunity to develop ties and friendships with other young Basques from many states whose parents and ancestors came from both the northern and southern parts of Euskal Herria. The relationships formed over the two-week period increase the present and future interaction between all of the Basque clubs, as those children often grow up to be the leaders of their own institutions. Music Camp, now called Udaleku, is a unique experience for both the participants who meet other Basques from other communities, and for the teachers granted the opportunity to teach younger generations of Basque-Americans about their culture. The camp is meant to impart to young Basque-Americans an appreciation for the uniqueness of their heritage. The Udaleku objectives and organization include the following: Udaleku Txistu Band 1) MUSIC. Every student must make an attempt at learning, or improving, on either the accordion or txistu. 2) DANCE. Every student will be expected to participate in dance rehearsals and make an attempt to learn as many of the dances as possible. 3) SINGING. Participants will take part in singing sessions in which both old and new Basque songs from all seven provinces will be learned. 4) LANGUAGE. This being a Basque music camp, "Euskara" or the Basque language should be present and apparent. No one can learn the language in two weeks, but an effort should be made to introduce the language. 5) GROUPS. All the participants will be divided up into seven groups, one for each of the seven Basque provinces. The function of these groups is to better organize the camp and coordinate instruction. The groups, each coordinated by a music/dance instructor, would aim to accomplish teaching the following: Mus & pala instruction; Euskara; cooking, tambourine, and their group/province presentation. List of previous Music Camp hosts since 1985: Udaleku Lapurdiko Makila - 1985: Hosted by the Boise Oinkari Dancers - 1986: Hosted by the Elko Basque Club - 1987: Hosted by the Los Banos Basque Club - 1988: Hosted by the Boise Basque Club - 1989: Hosted by the Bakersfield Basque Club - 1990: Hosted by the Elko Basque Club - 1991: Hosted by San Francisco area clubs - 1992: Hosted by the Boise Basque Club - 1993: Hosted by the Chino & Southern California Clubs - 1994: Hosted by the Reno Basque Club - 1995: Hosted by San Francisco area clubs - 1996: Hosted by the Boise Basque Club - 1997: Hosted by the Kern County Basque Club - 1998: Hosted by the Elko Basque Club - 1999: Hosted by the S.F. Basque Cultural Center - 2000: Hosted by the Buffalo Big Horn Basque Club - 2001: Hosted by the Chino Basque Club with So. California & Ventura - 2002: Hosted by the Reno Basque Club Prior to the creation of NABO and the music camps, Basques of Bizkaian descent in communities of Idaho and Nevada interacted little with the Basques of California, whom were largely northern or "French Basque." When delegates from the Basque clubs of Los Banos and San Francisco, California; Boise and Emmett, Idaho; Elko, Ely and Reno, Nevada; and Ontario, Oregon gathered together, they were well aware that there was little if any communication between the various Basque clubs of the American West. They were attempting to cross the divide- real and imagined- between Basque-Americans, and their venture has resulted in absolute success. In 2002, eight individuals, four of whom are from the Basque Country, instructed the children and teenagers in Euskara, Basque culture, txistu, txalaparta, dance, and Basque cuisine. In addition to the regular class sessions, participants also enjoyed a variety of field trips including on to the historic Ponderosa Ranch, the site of the filming of the long-running television show "Bonanza". Elko-98 The final performance for the Udaleku allows students to demonstrate their new skills for their families and the larger community. The 2002 performance at the Reno Hug High School Gymnasium included a slide show, a short theatre-play in Euskara, dancing, txalaparta, and singing. The audience of approximately 400 people was extremely proud of what these young Basques have learned, and expect them that the traditions and customs of Basque culture will be carried on for another generation, thanks to this NABO program. ----------- Bibliography of sources Totoricagüena, Gloria. Comparing the Basque Diaspora. Reno: University of Nevada Press. 2003. Totoricagüena, Gloria. Boise Basques: Dreamers and Doers. Serie URAZANDI. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Eusko Jaurlaritza. Forthcoming 2003. ----------- Gloria Totoricagüena Egurrola Center for Basque Studies University of Nevada Reno