Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Basque in the American West

A recent NPR report highlighted the role of the Basque in sheepherding in the United States. Starting around 1850 many Basque immigrants came to the U.S. to engage in sheepherding, and in the west ‘Basque’ became almost synonymous with ‘sheepherder.’ A fascinating read.

Listening to the program this blogger wondered how one could do a report on sheepherding with no mention at all re friction between sheepherders and cattle ranchers. A bit of research reveals that while historically there were some problems between the two groups (e.g. when the Idaho legislature passed a law forbidding sheepherders from bringing their sheep within two miles of any cattle range, a law later upheld by the Idaho Supreme Court and then the United States Supreme Court) this was not always the case, and some ranchers had both cattle and sheep….

The Sheepherder's Ball: Hidden Basque Kitchens
Amerikanuak! Basques in the High Desert
Basque Ranching Culture 
Ethnic Industries for Migrants: Basque Sheepherding in the American West

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