This year I had the opportunity to attend the San Inazio festival in Boise, Idaho. San Inazio is an annual festival celebrating the Basque culture and it is hosted by the Basque diaspora in Idaho.
The San Inazio festival takes place each July and attracts thousands of visitors both from the old country and USA. There are multiple events each year that encapsulate the essence of Basque culture such as a Txantxangorriak musical group, performances by Oinkari Basque Dancers, and other live performances.
Basques have been settling in the Americas for hundreds of years. The Basque in North America came for various reasons. Early settlers may have arrived on Spanish land grants, some for the California gold rush, others likely sought a better life without persecution under the Franco-era regime. Most of the Basques in the USA seem to come from the Spanish provinces known in Spain as País Vasco, while a lesser percentage come from the French side Pays Basque.
Basque Americans are spread out among various states but the highest concentrations of them are in Boise (Idaho), Bakersfield (California), and Jordan Valley (Oregon). Other notable populations can be found spread out around the US.
The origins of the Basque people remains a mystery to this day. They’ve been referenced as early as the Romans, but seem to have been around long before the empire reached them. Icelanders have had their fair share of conflicts with them, including a 400 year old law called Spánverjavígin, permitting islanders of the Westfjords to kill Basques. This law was only repealed in 2015.
The impact of the Basque people is subtly clear in various aspects of Western life and the Americas from names to foods to the Basque descendants who’ve changed society. Pinchos, or pintxos, a common dish found throughout the world traces its origins to the Basque lands.
The present day Basque territory is spread out between the borders of Spain and France. There are 7 total provinces 4 in Spain and 3 in France, which is why the graffiti can often be seen “4+3=1”. The largest city being Bilbao.
If you ever get the chance to visit Boise Idaho in July, I’d recommend visiting for the San Inazio festival. Boise is a beautiful town with a homely and cozy feel. The Basque Block is the perfect place to let loose and enjoy the simple things in life, with your closest Basque lagun (friends).
For future events, check out the Basque Center’s website here.