This article was translated by John R. Bopp

In our daily search for news from around the world that mentions the Basques, we found an article yesterday by Alfredo Cedeño in Venezuela’s El Nacional that caught our attention.

Daniel Barandiaran LarrañagaDaniel Barandiaran Larrañaga

The article was about the domestic politics of that country, but what caught our eye was a reference to Daniel “the Indian” Barandiaran, “the most Venezuelan Basque that’s ever been”.

As we always say, one of the things we love about this blog is how much we learn.  The more time we dedicate to it, the more we realize how much we still have left to learn about our homeland.

This is a “model” case of our ignorance  Who was Daniel Barandiaran, this man cited as being a role model by a Venezuelan newspaper?  We didn’t know, beyond recognizing that his surname matches that of José Miguel de Barandiaran, the Basque anthropologist, ethnologist, and archaeologist.

So the first thing we did was search through Basque media, to see if we could find any clues.  All we found were three obituaries, in Diario Vasco, Goiena and Rememori, which reported his passing on October 9, 2011 in Oion, in Alava.  But there were no accompanying explanations, however brief: nothing that would help us know who he was and what he did.

So we kept digging, now in Venezuelan media.  There we found the blog La Guayana Esequiba, whose goal is the territorial claims Venezuela has on Guayana esequiba, which is currently part of the Republic of Guyana (more info on this dispute here).  This claim is still very active, and it seems it’s going to go before an international tribunal at the end of the year.

In this blog, we found two references to the protagonist of today’s entry in which we found out some of his vital information and, above all, his enormous scientific and human reach.  Both of the entries, which had to do with his passing, focused on showing the profile that highlighted his commitment to the indigenous peoples and his deep scientific knowledge as an anthropologist and researcher.

The first entry was dated October 11, 2011, two days after his passing, and was written by Óscar J. Márquez.  He revealed that Barandiaran was born in Eskoriaza in 1921 and arrived in Venezuela in the 1950s.  There, he worked very hard as an anthropologist, defending the rights of the aboriginal peoples, decrying the loss of their cultures and demanding the incorporation of many of their values into Venezuelan society.

A Sanemá-Yanoama woman with her adornments Daniel de Barandiaran Life and death among the Sanemá-Yanoama Indians Anthrolopolgica, number 21, December 1967
A Sanemá-Yanoama woman with her adornments Daniel de Barandiaran Life and death among the Sanemá-Yanoama Indians Anthrolopolgica, number 21, December 1967

 

The second article is dated October 16 of the same year, and talks about an article by Manuel Albert Donís Ríos, a member of the P. Hermann González Historical Research Institute, which was published in El Nacional on October 12.  This second article reveals more about the research and humanitarian work of our protagonist:

A PhD in History and Ethnology, he arrived in Venezuela in the ‘50s and by 1959 was already living with the peoples of the Upper Orinoco.  His almost-20-year stay with them allowed him to identify himself with the Sanemá-Yanoama, who considered him an “adopted member”.  The proof of this was in his first book, The Children of the Moon (1974), in which he defended, with all the might afforded him by his personal experience, “the forgotten and hidden values of the Venezuelan natives, the very substrate of our nationality”.

Yes, thanks to a quotation in an op-ed article, we have discovered an extraordinary Basque whom we, and we believe most Basques, have never heard of before.  But that’s not just because we weren’t able to find any references to him; it’s also because we haven’t found any references to him or his work close to us.

We’re sure that this is not an exception, given this extraordinary case.  Quite the contrary, we’re sure that many Basques around the world, in different fields, have had, and still do, a significant, relevant role, which is completely unknown in our own country.

We believe that this is something we ought to reflect on as a society.  Our reality and our history as a society, as a people, and as a nation is also the sum of the contributions our fellow countrymen make around the world.  And that is something that we need to discuss, preserver, and, above all, value.

Guayana Esequiba – 11/10/2011 – Venezuela

El Dr. Daniel de Barandiarán y la Guayana Esequiba

El Instituto de Estudios Fronterizos de Venezuela (IDEFV),  La Fundación la Guayana Esequiba, su  blog y   la web, y sus cuentas asociadas en twiter y facebook, le rinden un homenaje póstumo al Dr. Daniel de Barandiarán,  gran venezolano, quien falleció el  pasado sábado 08 de octubre  del presente año a las 16:05 horas en el municipio Oyón, Provincia de Álava

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Guayana Esequiba – 16/10/2011 – Venezuela

Murió el indio Daniel

El sábado 8 de octubre falleció en el Municipio Oyón, Provincia de Álava, Daniel  Barandiarán Larrañaga. Tenía 89 años de edad. Doctor en Historia y Etnología, llegó a Venezuela en los años 50 y para 1959 ya convivía con las etnias del Alto Orinoco. Su estadía de casi 20 años le permitió identificarse con los Sanemá-Yanoama, quienes lo consideraron un “miembro adoptivo”. Prueba de ello fue su primer libro: Los Hijos de la Luna (1974), en el que reivindicó con toda la fuerza de su experiencia personal, “los valores olvidados o conculcados del indígena venezolano, substrato mismo de nuestra nacionalidad”.

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