Louisiana Basque American Society and Cultural Organization



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What is Basque?

It is believed that the Basques are descended from the first people to live on the Iberian Peninsula, in the north of Spain and the south of France. They are a genetically, culturally, and linguistically unique ethnic group in Europe. For example, the highest type-O frequency in Europe and one of the highest frequencies of Rh- blood groups in the world is found in the Basques. Hundreds of years ago, when Spain and France were made up of small, separate kingdoms or states, the Basques lived together in one kingdom called Navarra. When Spain and France became countries, Navarra was split between them. Since then, the Basques have fought for, and won, some power to rule themselves.

The Basques were great seafarers and left archaeological traces in Acadia from their whaling. Basques also settled in Louisiana after Le Grand Derangement in 1755. The fact that Basques had even been in Louisiana has been omitted from recorded history, even though they played a huge role in its history. They have been swallowed up in history as being just French, Spanish, Cajun, or Creole. The fact is, they were here and still are.

Many have remained; however, many have also have departed this land.  Some during the 1849 Gold Rush went out west and settle the modern day Basque communities of Nevada, Idaho, California, Colorado, and Wyoming.  Others returned to the Old World, others went to Latin and French America, and still others failed to survive the many plagues of Yellow fever and Cholera that ravaged Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries.

None the less today, Louisiana’s need for spice is still supplied by a descendent of a Basque, Zatarain.  Louisiana’s streets celebrate other Basques like Sorapuru, Lafitte- the famous pirate, Navarre, Abbadie, Seguin and Soule. Descendents of the Lesseps family-of the Suez Canal and Panama Canal fame, still live here, one of them became a New Orleans city mayor here. Their families, as well as those of the Errigo, Argote, Abaunza, Goyeneche, Echegarrua, Ajubita, Seguin, Aguirre, Aitztondo, Indurriaga, and many others are still around.

The Basques have their own language, Euskera, and their own dances, songs, and poetry. In the past, Basques were often farmers and sailors, but today many of them work in mines and factories.