University of Nevada, Reno

Basque Center



News Archive - Summer 2000

Basque Dance Class in Reno
Learn popular dances to do at Basque gatherings and get an aerobic workout as well by attending the Basque dance class offered this semester at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. Taught by highly skilled instructor Lisa Corcostegui, the class is held on Friday evenings, September 22 through October 13, from 8-9:50 p.m.

The cost is $34.00 and you can register online using the TMCC Web-Reg system, or call 673-7111. Use class call number 23091 to register. Grading is pass/withdraw.

[Photo by L. Corcostegui]

Recent publication by Joxe Mallea

Life of a Basque immigrant in Susanville, California
A recently published book by Joxe Mallea Olaetxe, The Power of Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Ignacio “Idaho” Urrutia, tells the story of a Basque immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of seventeen, working as a sheepherder and other laborer jobs until he eventually owned a grocery store in Susanville, California.

The book is available for $23.54 (tax included) plus $5.00 shipping, from: Idaho Grocery, Inc., 2120 Main Street, Susanville, CA. 96130, phone 530.257.2194.

U.S. Senator Richard Bryan honors local Basques at festival
Several local Basques received Senatorial Recognition certificates from Richard Bryan, U.S. Senator of the State of Nevada, to acknowledge their contributions to the Reno Basque Festival Library of Congress Bicentennial Local Legacies Project. Among the awardees were Center for Basque Studies’ Program Assistant, Kate Camino; head of the UNR Basque Library, Marcelino Ugalde; and Lisa Corcostegui, who heads the Zenbat Gara Dance Ensemble and is a Ph.D. student in Basque Studies. The honors were presented at a ceremony at the Reno Basque Festival on July 22, 2000.

Felipe and 
Imanol Ugarte demonstrate the txalaparta.
[Photo by Lisa Corcostegui]

Reno festival performers give workshops at UNR
Reno’s Zazpiak Bat Basque Club held their annual festival July 22 and 23 in Wingfield park as part of Reno’s ARTown celebration. Along with the traditional Basque dancing and strength contests, such as a weight-carrying contest and tug-of-war, this year’s event also highlighted Basque folk music by inviting two groups from Euskal Herria to perform.

One group was the Ugarte Anaiak who play the txalaparta, a traditional percussion instrument consisting of boards laid across two supports and then struck rhythmically with thick wooden sticks. The instrument is derived from the apple-cider production process. Workers would stand inside large wooden vats of apples using poles to crush the fruit, which caused hollow tapping sounds on the floor of the vat. To relieve boredom, they made it into a fun activity by echoing each other’s increasingly complex rhythms. Felipe and Imanol from Urnieta, Gipuzkoa delighted the crowds with their skilled demonstration of this instrument. They later visited the University of Nevada, Reno campus to give two workshops, allowing the audience to try their hand at txalaparta.

The other group was Katti eta Chantal, a trikitixa duo. Katti Pochelu plays the panderoa (tambourine) while Chantal Maya plays the triki, or Basque diatonic accordion. These two are from Iparralde or the North Basque Country and added great ambience by playing not only throughout the park but also in the Basque restaurants and other venues outside of the festival.

The visit of these talented performers was arranged by the Center for Basque Studies’ Program Assistant, Kate Camino, who in her “other life” is the president of the Reno Basque Club.

A new book about Basques in Idaho

Two New Publications in the Basque Book Series
The latest additions to the University of Nevada Press’ Basque Book Series are The Basque Poetic Tradition by Gorka Aulestia and An Enduring Legacy: The Story of Basques in Idaho by John and Mark Bieter.

The Aulestia volume contains fourteen essays on the Basque poetic tradition, including a “Survey of Basque Poetry,” which highlights the major Basque poets, and several essays that examine individual writers. The book was translated into English by Dr. Linda White, a faculty member at the Center for Basque Studies, who also wrote the foreword for the text. (Hardcover, 296 pages, $44.95.)

In An Enduring Legacy, brothers John and Mark Bieter chronicle the Basque presence in Idaho from 1890 to the present, and follow their evolution into the prominent ethnic community of today. The book is illustrated with photographs from the Basque Country and the early years in Idaho. (Hardcover, 224 pages, $31.95.)

Please refer to ordering information in our Books section.

Basque Film Class concludes with two films from the ’90s
This week the film class saw Alas de Mariposa (Butterfly Wings) (Juanma Bajo Ulloa, 1991) and Urte Illunak (The Dark Years) (Arantxa Lazkano, 1992) to conclude the course. Alas de Mariposa examines the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and her daughter, and the resulting family tragedy after the mother gives birth to a son. The final film, Urte Illunak, is a memoir of a Basque girl growing up in a small town during the post-war Franco regime. The political and cultural repression of the Basque Country is matched by the social and emotional repression of the child protagonist.

We wish to thank Prof. Martí-Olivella for his excellent presentation of the class and enlightening discussions of Basque cinema. He has also agreed to assist Basque Librarian Marcelino Ugalde with development of the library’s video collection, which will greatly enhance our offerings in the area of Basque film.

Basque Film Class continues with week three
July 23 and 24, students in the summer film class viewed Imanol Uribe’s La Muerte de Mikel (Mikel’s Death), a film from 1984, and Ander eta Yul, directed by Ana Diez in 1988.

The first film deals with a young man who meets disapproval from his wealthy, conservative family for his involvement in the Basque nationalist cause, and even worse consequences when he reveals his homosexuality. In the second movie, two former classmates from seminary school meet again years later, after one has completed a jail sentence for drug trafficking and the other has become involved with an ETA commando.

Both films generated extensive and lively discussions, led by instructor Jaume Martí-Olivella. The class will conclude this week with our final two screenings.

Daniel Calparsoro’s award-winning 1992 film will be screened in July.

Free Basque Film Showcase in Reno
Two award-winning Basque films will be shown to the public as part of the fifth annual Uptown Downtown ARTown Festival, hosted by the City of Reno in July. Additional funding for the film showcase was awarded by the Nevada Arts Council.

The films, Vacas (Cows), written and directed by Julio Medem, and Salto al Vacío (Jump into the Void) by Daniel Calparsoro, are in Spanish with English subtitles. Released in 1992, the film Cows received critical acclaim and won first place in two major international film festivals. It tells the story of the rivalry and passion existing over three generations between two families from neighboring Basque villages.

Jump into the Void portrays twenty-four hours in the lives of four delinquent youths, at the end of which they have all been party to a murder. Their actions follow a cruel logic, as they do exactly what their environment demands of them. This movie was featured in the Stockholm and London International Film Festivals for 1995.

The screenings will take place on July 18 (Cows) and July 20 (Jump into the Void) at 7:30 pm at the Century Theaters Riverside, 11 N. Sierra Street, and are free of charge to the general public. For further information please contact the Center for Basque Studies at 784.4854.x254.

Summer Film Class Screens Basque Classics
The Basque film class at the University of Nevada, Reno has completed its first week, instructed by visiting professor Jaume Martí-Olivella of the State University of New York-Albany, where he teaches Peninsular literatures and Hispanic film. The first film viewed by the class was Lauaxeta-A Los Cuatro Vientos (J.A. Zorilla, 1987), which deals with the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the struggles of the central character, the Basque poet Lauaxeta, who serves as the narrative focus of the story. The second film was Tasio (M. Armendáriz, 1984), a poetic account of the day-to-day life of a charcoal-maker living in the Navarrese mountains, covering his lifespan from childhood through adolescence and adulthood. Integrated with his natural surroundings, Tasio lives by his own rules, resisting domination by the norms of modern society.

The screenings are followed by lively discussion of the films’ structure, symbology, and other aspects. Critical reviews of each movie, as well as essays relating to Basque cinema, are read by the class to aid in an understanding of what Martí-Olivella refers to as “…one of the most interesting and challenging micro-cinemas of Europe.”

This week the class will change its venue to the downtown Reno theater complex where the Basque Film Showcase, featuring two more contemporary films (see story above) will be screened for the general public.

Professor Martí-Olivella will remain at the Center for Basque Studies as a visiting scholar through mid-August. He is also preparing an online course on Basque cinema for our Basque Cultural Studies class series.

IBS London Conference Update
Linda White’s article “A Literature in Chains: Literatura kateatuta,” has been published on the Institute of Basque Studies (IBS) web site at URL Click on “Literature in Chains” in Session Three of the International Symposium program. Dr. White also organized a panel of the same name for the Institute of Basque Studies First Symposium (conference) held in London, June 29-July 2, where she presented a brief version of the article. Other speakers on the panel were Javier Cillero, Joseba Gabilondo, Laura Mintegi, and Mari Jose Olaziregi.

Jose Mallea Interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition
Dr. Jose Mallea, Basque Researcher with the Center for Basque Studies, was featured in an interview on tree carvings that aired on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition show on July 6. The report by Tristan Clum of KNAU in northern Arizona discussed the efforts to record these carvings, or dendroglyphs, etched into aspen trees several decades ago by Basque sheepherders. The scarring of the cut bark over time darkens and thickens the lines, making the design more visible. Clum stated, “The only real reminder of that time is the record on the trees. Aspens have an average lifespan of 90 to 100 years; many are now dying.” You can listen to the five-minute interview on NPR’s website (14.4kb stream)(28.8kb stream)

Mallea has devoted the past ten years to recording Basque sheepherders’ carvings in the aspen groves of the Sierra Nevada. His book, Speaking Through the Aspens: Basque Tree Carvings in California and Nevada is scheduled for publication in September by the University of Nevada Press. In the future, a database of the information and images he has gathered will be appearing on our website.

Noted Reno Basque, Peter Echeverria, Dies
Peter Ignacio Echeverria, noted Reno lawyer and political figure in the state of Nevada, passed away on Wednesday, July 5. He served in the Nevada Senate from 1959 to 1963, and later as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1973 to 1977. Echeverria was also twice elected national president of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In June, the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association awarded him the first Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrating his career as one of the finest trial attorneys in the country.

Mr. Echeverria was proud of his Basque heritage, and was on the organizing committee of the first national Basque festival held in Sparks, Nevada in 1959.

We extend our condolences to Mr. Echeverria’s family and friends. We wish to also express our gratitude to his family for establishing a memorial fund for the Center for Basque Studies, in acknowledgement of their father’s pride in his Basque heritage.

Lagun Onari award presented to William Douglass by Lehendakari Ibarretxe.
William Douglass Honored for Distinguished Career
William Douglass, Director of the Basque Studies Program (now Center for Basque Studies) for over thirty years, received several honors during the past year. In October, he was presented the Lagun Onari award by the Lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe (president of the Basque Government). This prestigious award has only been given twice before - to Presidents Sanguinetti of Uruguay and Frei of Chile - and is the highest honor that the Basque Government bestows upon non-Basques in recognition of their efforts on behalf of the Basque people. Representatives from 74 Basque Centers from around the world were present for the award.

At the University of Nevada, Reno’s Faculty and Staff Annual Awards Ceremony in May of 1999 he was honored as the Outstanding Researcher of the Year. He was also given UNR’s most prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of a career of extraordinary service to the institution. It was the first time that two such prominent honors have been conferred on a single individual in the same year.

Dr. Douglass was also honored at last summer’s Aste Nagusia celebration organized by the Zazpiak Bat Reno Basque Club. He received plaques and certificates from Juan Mari Atutxa, President of the Basque Parliament, as well as from the North American Basque Organizations and the Reno Basque Club.

These honors and awards reflect the deep respect and appreciation that is held for Dr. Douglass’ work by his colleagues and by Basque people of the world.

New name for the Basque Studies Program
The Basque Studies Program’s name has officially been changed to Center for Basque Studies on the recommendation of the committee that performed our Program Review in fall of 1998. The change was proposed as a way to “reaffirm that research and scholarship constitute the central role of the BSP in helping the university achieve its broader agenda.”

Approval of the name change came shortly after Director Joseba Zulaika assumed leadership of the Program, upon the retirement of William A. Douglass, who served as coordinator of the BSP for over thirty years. One of the Center’s new directions will be to augment its web site to make it a more valuable resource for any researcher interested in Basque topics. The new look of our web site will be in progress for the next few months. A redesign of our newsletter is also planned.

For a FREE subscription to the Center for Basque Studies Newsletter, please send us your name and address. We will add you to our mailing list. If you prefer to fetch the electronic version from our site, please include your e-mail address. We can then let you know when each issue has been uploaded.

As if all of these changes were not enough, the Center has also moved, although not very far. Because of the crowded situation of the Basque library, the administrative offices were moved down the hall to Room 281 of Getchell Library. However, our address, phone number, and fax have all remained the same.


Copyright © 2000 the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno. All rights reserved. Updated 5 October 2000. E-mail: