Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World

Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World

Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World

Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World

Synopsis

An accessible overview of the Basque diaspora in the Western Hemisphere, this book is both a pioneering study of one of the American West's most important ethnic minorities and an engaging, comprehensive survey of Basque migration and settlement in the Americas. This edition includes a fresh preface by William A Douglass.

Excerpt

It is typical of the Basques that their involvement of five centuries in the New World has so successfully avoided historical mention of any general scope. Reticence has always been the deeper mark of the Basque character.

Yet, involved they were to a surprising degree. Seafaring Basques led the way in their pursuit of whales across uncharted oceans, certainly seeing Newfoundland and Canada in the early 1500s and perhaps before. Christopher Columbus's first expedition was dependent upon Basque ships and sailors. From that time on, the Basque presence permeated the conquest and colonization of South America, Mexico, Spanish California, and the American West.

It remained to anthropologist William Douglass and historian Jon Bilbao to undertake the painstaking project of tracing these often obscure threads of Basque activities in the New World.

To do so, they have begun at the beginning. As background to understanding the Basque character and homeland, their first chapter traces the Basques from prehistory to the age of exploration. Suffice to say that it is for me a brilliant sifting of Old World sources in order to produce a capsule view of a people's history.

The six years of research that have gone into Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World--in many respects an ongoing project--have taken the authors through ten states of the American West, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Their work has included the collection of oral histories, personal observation, and questionnaires in western sheepcamps and Basque hotels, examination of myriad official records, and an analysis of newspaper files and published sources, the latter usually of a local and anecdotal nature.

Neither scholar is stranger to the field of Basque studies.

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