Basque

Becky Smith/trailingofthesheep.org

Domesticated sheep were brought to Southwest Idaho in the 1860's and helped support the state's economy as mining began to drop off in the late 19th century. The industry attracted herders from all over the globe and helped develop the fabric of Idaho's diverse population. In 1997, an event was created to celebrate the legacy of sheepherding in Idaho and from October 10 through 14, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival will take place in Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.

SADIE BABITS

The San Inazio Festival is an annual event to honor St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of the Basques. It began more than 25 years ago and now thousands come to the Basque Block at the end of every July to see local musicians and dancers as well as Basque sporting events.

Richard Lane, 1969/Courtesy Basque Library at the University of Nevada, Reno

In the 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Basque people were brought to the western United States to do the desolate work that no one else would do—herding sheep. Alone for months at a time with hundreds of sheep, the Basque improvised songs, baked bread in underground ovens, carved poetry and drawings into the Aspen trees, listened to The Basque Radio hour traditional music and messages between the herders out in the isolated countryside—looking forward to The Annual Sheepherder’s Ball.

  • Our team of Idaho reporters breaks down the week's headlines.
  • Reporter Davia Nelson visits the Basque tradition of the Annual Sheepherder's Ball.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A former sheepherder says he was forced to work in near slave-labor conditions for years, stranded in a remote Idaho outpost with no transportation and barely enough food. 

Owyhee County is Idaho’s second largest county and yet one of its least populated. Despite its emptiness, Owyhee County has a rich history, one that has been thoroughly explored and documented by today’s guest, John Bieter.

One of the largest Basque communities in the United States will spend the next five days celebrating the traditional Jaialdi festival in southwestern Idaho.

An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 people are expected to attend the five-day party —which starts Tuesday in Boise— as a showcase of the culture. The festival originally started in 1987, and has been held every five years starting in 1990 ever since.

Pete Cenarrusa, a Basque-American who held state office in Idaho uninterrupted for more than five decades, has died. He was 95.

Cenarrusa died about noon on Sunday at his home in Boise after a battle with lung cancer, said Roy Eiguren, president of the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture.

Cenarrusa's wife of 66 years, Freda, was at his side.

Cenarrusa was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1950 and served nine terms, including three terms as Speaker. Governor Don Samuelson appointed him Idaho Secretary of State in 1967.

Sadie Babits

It’s a Wednesday night… game night for Ysabel Bilbao. She’s part of a women’s league that plays the Basque racket sport of pelota.

“As we go downstairs, this is what I describe as the fight club because it’s just this big concrete hole. We come downstairs to the fronton and there’s girls playing now,” she says.

Basque Mus: More Than A Card Game

Mar 30, 2012
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

This Saturday in downtown Boise people gather around tables at Leku Ona to play mus. That’s said like moose.  It’s a Basque card game, think poker meets chess. The winner will go on to compete in a national tournament in Chino, California in late April.