This article was translated by John R. Bopp
We’ve spoken before about the arboglyphs on our blog: an extraordinary, and perishable, heritage the Basques who went to the US left behind in the bark of the poplar trees while they spent months by themselves shepherding in the Far West.
We’re bringing the topic back up again today because a fantastic article was just published on the website Atlas Obscura, whose goal is to be the definitive guide to all the marvelous and curious places around the world. The article was written by Kelsey Kennedy, with information from John Bieter, one of the members of a family that is part of the core of the Basque community in Boise.
The article gives us some key information to help us understand this part of the Basque heritage in the US, and the importance of protecting these open-air books that tell the stories, yearnings, and (sometimes carnal) desires of those Basques who were “lost” on the other side of the world.
Atlas Obscura – 3/10/2017 – USA
The Mysterious Tree Carvings of America’s Basque Sheepherders
SOME AMERICANS, TO LEARN ABOUT their ancestors, can dig through documents detailing when they passed through Ellis Island or flew in or got married, or where they lived at the time of a census. But for some Basque families in the United States, the only record they have of their immigrant ancestors is carved into trees in secluded aspen groves throughout the West. Names, dates, hometowns, and other messages and art scar the pale bark of aspens where Basque men watched over herds of hundreds of sheep from the 1850s to the 1930s.