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Boise State Basque Studies Program

Boise State Launches Basque Studies Program...

A new era of study in the fascinating world of the Basques began at Boise State University in 2006. Boise State President Robert Kustra and Juan Jose Ibarretxe, President or Lehendakari of Euzkadi, the autonomous Basque region in Northern Spain, signed an agreement Wednesday between Boise State, the Cenarrusa Center for Basque Studies and the Basque government to launch a new Basque studies program at BSU.

Visit the BSU Basque Studies Program website click here

The Program and Our Community

The Boise State Basque Studies Program includes Basque culture, history and political challenges and compliments local and international programs for study in the Basque Country offered by the Boise State International Studies Program and others. The program provides a resource for the greater community and region where Boise State University is located in Boise, Idaho. Idaho is home to a large concentration of people of Basque decent and Boise has the only Basque museum and Basque language school in the United States.

For the past one hundred years Basques have settled in Idaho and contributed to the largest concentration of Basques in North America. Working with local, regional and international groups provides us with the opportunity to preserve this history and culture which has significantly enriched the State of Idaho and beyond.

While Basques have enjoyed significant opportunities in Idaho and the Western U.S., they have also provided critical resources to the community. Boarding houses allowed the immigrant generation to gather together. Basque Centers and other local and regional associations furthered these ties in the communities. The Basque Studies Program provides another avenue to connect academically with those in the Basque Country and other Basque communities throughout the world.

Basque Studies at Boise State University: Outreach to date

Outreach has been key to the origins of Basque Studies at Boise State. When the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture (formerly Center for Basque Studies) approached Boise State with interest and financial support, the development of the program accelerated. This is just one of many examples of the benefits of outreach in a reciprocal fashion. Basque Studies benefits from its ongoing contacts with area Basque organizations, and Boise State’s program in turn can provide beneficial educational components to a community in search of viable ways of retaining an active interest among their members. Listed below are most of the outreach efforts to date that reveal this mutually beneficial relationship between our academic community and the broader Basque community locally, nationally and internationally.

Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture (formerly Center for Basque Studies)
» Initial relationship helped to spawn Basque Studies at Boise State
» Educational components (and monies granted from the Basque Government) were transferred over to Boise State; new direction for them now is a foundation to assist in financial terms various endeavors to promote Basque culture.
» Ongoing mutual relationship

Basque Museum & Cultural Center
» Euskara classes at the Basque Block allowing for more community participation.
» Reception held there during our Spring Conference
» Collaborative arborglyph (tree carving) project along with U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
» History classes have prepared exhibit briefs
» The BMCC has consistently provided tours for our classes
» Boise State has placed interns at BMCC
» Basque Studies has served as consultants for BMCC
» Ongoing mutual relationship

North American Basque Organizations, Inc. (NABO)
» Hosted the first NABO Gaztealde or Basque Instructor Workshop. This was a three-day workshop that aimed to train potential instructors of introductory Basque culture.
» NABO is a federation of 40 Basque organizations in the U.S. and soon Canada. Its aim is to help member organization to help themselves and others in the promotion of Basque culture. Here Basque Studies plays a role in terms of educational programs which is being sought more and more by the larger Basque community
» Ongoing mutual relationship

Boise Euzkaldunak (Basque Center)
» Jim Jausoro Gogoan (Memorial). Last Spring Boise State hosted a tribute an extraordinary contributor to Basque culture, in conjunction with our Basque Studies Conference. The scope was unprecedented and the event turned out very well.
» Conference participants also were a part of a monthly dinner at the Basque Center, giving them an opportunity to tap into Basque life in the Basque community.
» Ongoing mutual relationship

Oinkari Basque Dancers
» The ongoing effort here entails supplementing what the group can teach its members and audience about Basque culture.
» Ongoing mutual relationship

Basque Block entities (including The Basque Marketplace, Leku Ona & Gernika)
» These restaurant businesses have provided cuisine for several Basque Studies events, including workshops and the conference held Spring 2007
» Ongoing mutual relationship

Basque Autonomous Government of Euskadi
» Provided seed money to establish Basque Studies at Boise State
» Basque Government delegation attended the inaugural ceremony at Boise State in conjunction with Jaialdi 2005
» Basque Government delegation attended the first Basque Studies Conference Spring 2007
» Ongoing mutual relationship; have expressed an interest in continuing support

Other Basque Studies programs
» Initiated an effort to establish the first ever Basque Studies Consortium; currently being developed with six universities along with Boise State.
» Pursuing a joint effort to apply for a federal grant to establish a Consortium
» Ongoing mutual relationship

International Basque Diaspora
» Original foray was to publicize the local initiatives, with a notice that in the future the hope is that a greater degree of communication and cooperation might develop among liked-minded institutions pursuing Basque Studies.

The Cenarrusa Center for Basque Studies was founded in 2003 to preserve, educate and connect the Basque community and the rest of the world through research, projects and educational opportunities for all. Boise State University professor John Bieter tells EuskoSare that although his mother was Basque, he was actually initially inspired by his father, a non-Basque, who took a deep interest in Basques. Mr. Bieter began talking with Pete Cenarrusa and things began advancing. They formally began planning and incorporated the foundation in 2003.

Initially the effort was focused on integrating the academic programs on Boise State University’s campus. The target is broad and students are overwhelmingly non-Basques. One of most rewarding aspects of first year (2006) has been seeing students deeply engaged in Basque American topics. The Basque Studies Program offers three main components: Basque Academic Minor, International Program (Bilbao), and Conferences. When asked about the benefits of obtaining a Basque minor, John Bieter told EuskoSare in 2007, “An international studies degree presents an understanding of a particular culture. It prepares you for your degree and is a means to understanding larger issues. It gives you insight into global issues…"

”Our aim is to first preserve the history and culture here in the United States and as Basques assimilate to broader Americans – it’s a way to maintain a presence in an identity and understanding in a culture. Our goal is to expand as broadly as possible and we are currently working with the three main educational institutions in Idaho."

Today, Tomorrow, and the Future

The Basque Studies Program at Boise State plans to build a consortium of universities with interest in Basque Studies. The University of Idaho plans to unify academic institutions in 2007 and 2008 with a conference for those interested in starting such a program. The conference will consist of speakers, community arts and cultural events. Folks will huddle together and talk about how to start such a program. In the long term, it is their hope to be able to do technological exchanges with the Basque Country.

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