National Geographic has dedicated many articles to the Basques over its more than a century of publishing.  We’ve collected a few of them on our blog.  Up to now, the ones we’ve brought you have been about the Basques living in the homeland; today, however, we bring you a very special one, which is dedicated to a group of Basques who live abroad: the Basques of Idaho.

For us, of all the articles by National Geographic that we’ve linked to so far, this is one of the most important, second only to the 1968 article titled Land of the Ancient Basques, which was written by Basque-American author Robert Laxalt with photographs by William Albert Allard.

This article, titled “Looking for Basque country in Idaho? Just follow the sheep”, was written by Alex Schechter and features magnificent photography by Sofía Jaramillo.  While it’s true that the worlds of sheep and of the Basques in that part of the US are ever more separated, as we can see in a couple of recent articles (here and here) that we’ve brought to you, it still holds true that the image of our compatriots in North America is still intrinsically linked to sheep.

The “excuse” for this National Geographic article is an event held in southern Idaho featuring sheep and sheepherders, which according to the magazine itself, is one of the largest fall festivals in the US.  It’s called “The Trailing of the Sheep“.

We’ve blogged about this event several times.  We were surprised at how the article, in order to give some context to the event, cites the trailing of the sheep over the “Cañada Real” in Madrid, when we Basques have a similar event in our own homeland.  That would be la Sanmiguelada, which is when the sheep are moved from Salazar and Roncal Valleys in the Navarrese Pyrenees to the Bardenas in September.

In the article, we can find references to culture; the traditions either preserved from home or created by Basques over there (such as the unique Basque cuisine that has been called the The Authentic Cuisine of the Intermountain West); the Arboglyphs the Basque sheepherders used to write their stories with on poplar trees; and much, much more.

A great snapshot of our compatriots in the Rockies.

National Geographic – 10/2019 – USA

Looking for Basque country in Idaho? Just follow the sheep

IDAHO’S PUBLIC LANDS are seemingly infinite, like one boundless playground. Hidden hot springs, rolling ranchland, and crystal rivers conspire to create a feeling of endless discovery. Drive south on Highway 75, with the jagged Sawtooth Mountains as a backdrop, and you can plan a beach day at Redfish Lake or go hunting for ghosts in the abandoned towns surrounding Stanley. It’s not a place to rush through.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

Left to right: Kristina Franzoia, Ruth Matheny, Izana Urquidi, and Amaya Monasterio, of the Oinkari Basque Dancers, cheer on their fellow teammates as they perform during the Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Hailey, Idaho. PHOTOGRAPH BY SOFIA JARAMILLO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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