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What is “Being Basque”? Reading the title of this article, any shrewd reader will realize that the person who wrote this comes from the Basque Country, that region in the north of Spain, sadly famous at times because of certain terrorist acts, but which has an incomparable beauty. In this land that in Euskera (the Basque language) we call Euskal Herria, I was born more than thirty years ago and it is there that I lived up until five years ago. Since the place we are born marks us for the rest of our lives, I decided that this article should be about what for me is “being Basque”. First I should say that my family does not originate in the Basque Country. Like many other families born in Spain in the thirties and forties of the twentieth century, my grandparents moved to live in Euskal Herria in search of a better future for themselves and for their children. There they settled and there my father was born, for example. Although they didn’t speak the language and at home there was not a Basque tradition, or maybe because of this, it was my parents who sent me to a Basque school, an Ikastola (the word for school in the Basque language), where I learned the language and the culture that I could not know or practice at home. And it was here, in school where I began “being Basque”. I would like to point out that this feeling is not exclusive. Basques are always been seeing as enterprising people. I will explain what I mean by saying this. Although we are a small portion of land in the north of the Iberian peninsula (not excessively rich in natural resources and with a population of a bit less than two million inhabitants), between two big countries like France and Spain, today many Basques are spread out around the world (many of them in Idaho!). First they arrived to California. From then, and looking for more opportunities some of them, or new experiences others, they moved to the north, many of then ending up in the state of the potatoes, and it capital, Boise. They started as simple shepherdess, and right now they own restaurants and hotels or they are bankers. Today these Basque people feel Americans and Basques It seems to me that this is a sign that “being Basque” is at the same time, being international and caring about other cultures. For me, “being Basque” is loving your land, its language and culture, enjoying its landscapes and its people, but also it is respecting other cultures as ancient and important as the Basque culture. Among them the Hispanic culture with which I share so many things and which I love so much. Many times politics cloud everything. This is what has happened in the Basque Country for de cades, and it has been the origin of many prejudices toward Basques and their “autonomous ideas”. Probably one of the major problems right now, or an advantage, is that Basque society is divided at 50% about their political status. Half of the population sees the Basque Country as a part of Spain and the other half would like the more autonomous status or even the independence. Anyhow, I would only ask for respect and knowledge of the cultures that are not our own and of people that think differently. In the case of my people, this is the respect of their free right to decide what they want to be in the world and in the future. For other people of the world, peace and prosperity. I believe that “being Basque” is not any more or less than this. Or perhaps it is all of this.
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