|Euzkaldunak Inc.||Oinkari Dancers||Basque Museum & Cultural Center||Gernika Pub & Eatery|
The Basque Block is located on Grove Street in downtown Boise, Idaho, USA
Ongi Etorri !
|Address : Grove Street, Boise, Idaho 83702
Boise Area Basque Organization Directory
The vast majority of the Basques living in the Boise area came from the province of Bizkaia. Basque names first started appearing here in the late 1800's. Although it was not something they had done in their homeland, many began working as sheepherders as the English and Scots had a lot of sheep and needed workers. Some Basques also worked in mining and logging. They were known to be honest, hard working people, and more and more came to this area as work was available.
Boise has a very close-knit, active Basque community. The following is a list of buildings between 6th and Capitol Boulevard on Grove Street which is now being called the "Basque Block." They are used for various activities, but are all important in keeping the Basque culture alive in Boise.
Built in the late 1940's as a social club and gathering place, the Basque Center has played an important role in the history of the Basques here. It's used for dance practices for both the Oinkari Basque Dancers (ages 14+) and the Boise'ko Gasteak Dancers (ages 2-13). In the afternoon it's not unusual to find some of the older Basques meeting there to drink coffee, converse, and maybe play some Mus, a Basque card game. The building is also rented for wedding receptions and dinners. www.basquecenter.com
Built in 1864, it's the oldest surviving brick building still in existence in Boise. Notable historical trivia includes boasting the first indoor bathtub in Boise and wedding site of Idaho's famous Senator William Borah. It was first rented by Basques for use as a boarding house in 1910 and was purchased by the Uberuaga family in 1917 and continued to be used as a boarding house until 1969. Adelia Garro Simplot purchased the house in 1983 to save it from being torn down and the Basque Museum and Cultural Center (a non-profit organization created to help preserve and perpetuate Basque culture for future generations) was formed in 1985 and assumed it from her. Efforts are being made to restore the boarding house to its hey-day of between 1910-1930. It will help us tell the story of that important period of time and way of life for Basques in this area.
This building houses the interpretive exhibits on the Basques and their history in Idaho, a classroom area where Basque language classes are offered two times per week, a library, offices, and a gift shop. A genealogy research center, archives of music, dance, photographs, and oral history are now being established. www.basquemuseum.com
It was built as a boarding house by the Anduiza family in 1912 and is especially unique because of the fronton,
or Basque handball court, inside. Although an engineering firm occupied it for almost 50 years, they never expanded
into the area where the playing court is located, so it hasn't been modified since it was built. Two Basque bought
the building in 1993. They lease the upper part for offices and the court to a Fronton Association formed to preserve
the sports of handball and pala, a sport played with a heavy wooden racquet and a hard rubber ball. They hope to
start teaching the younger children in the community to help insure the continuity of this part of the Basque culture
and encourage non-Basques to become part of the Fronton Association.
This Basque Pub and Eatery was established in 1991 and has become a focal gathering point for many in the community. Saved by the Basque Museum and Cultural Center from demolition by trading parking spaces for a lease, sub-leaser, Dan Ansotegui, did all of the work to make it into the quaint spot it is today. You can find great appetizers, soups, sandwiches and wine there and an atmosphere that welcome's all to the Basque Block.
Our biggest celebration is based around the religious feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, patron saint of
the Basques and founder of the Jesuit religious order. It is held on the last weekend of July annually and includes
exhibitions of music, dance, and sports; a Mass, picnic, and both indoor and outdoor dances.
The "Sheepherder's Ball", since 1929 it's been an annual December favorite. The tradition began many years ago...a night on the town to dance, eat a chorizo, and maybe have a drink or two.
International festivals, called "JAIALDI", have been held in Boise in 1987, 1990, 1995, & 2000...so we'll see you here in the year 2005! These are wonderful events with performers and athletes from the Basque Country as well as throughout the United States.
The Basque Center (Euzkaldunak, Inc.), the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, and the Oinkari Basque Dancers
are all members of this organization. It was formed in the 1970s to try to unite Basques organizations in the United
States. N.A.B.O. is now made up of 30 clubs from California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, New York, and
Washington, D.C. The organization sponsors a Mus card playing tournament, a Music Camp for children to learn dancing,
some language, cooking, and sports, and a Pelota (handball and pala) tournament.
The Basque culture is very much alive in Boise today. Groups focusing on various aspects of the culture, composed mainly of volunteers, have formed to ensure an interest in and
continuity of this "living culture."