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John Bieter presented a lecture on "The Basque Migration to the West" at the Basque Museum in Boise


John Bieter at the Basque Museum in Boise
John Bieter at the Basque Museum in Boise


John Bieter, Associate Professor at Boise State University's (BSU) Department of History, gave an educational presentation on 'Basque Migration to the American West' last Monday evening at the Basque Museum in downtown Boise. Even though the intent was to educate, the event often felt more like old friends reminiscing about those who had gone before them. Approximately sixty community members were in attendance.

Boise, USA. A group of about sixty people attended Dr. Bieter's educational lecture on Basque Migration. The Basque Museum in Boise organized the event, which was offered to the public free of charge. Three rows of chairs had been arranged into a semicircle facing a big projector, and a table by the back wall held a plate of cookies and some beverages. The attendees were mostly members of the Basque community, except for a small group of students attending BSU. 

At times the lecture seemed more like a gathering of friends and family reminiscing about past times and remembering those who are no longer here. As Dr. Bieter went from one slide to another, people would become excited as they pointed out a familiar face of a relative or friend. Even one of the attendees, Dave Lachiondo, former principal at Bishop Kelly High School, and who currently serves as the interim Director of the Basque Studies Program at BSU, appeared as a child in one of the pictures from the Basque Center’s inauguration.

Bieter gave a general overview of the migration patterns of Basque people and the places they chose as their new home. He talked about the various generations of immigrants and the difference in their goals. He urged attendees to forget about the present and put themselves in their place. According to him, people are polluted by their current views and often forget that the first generation of Basque immigrants were not overly concerned about their identity because they were too busy trying to survive. The second generation was concerned with fitting into the American way of life and put aside the customs and language of their ancestors. Finally, the third generation started going back to their roots in an effort to revive the culture and language forgotten by their parents.

Bieter ended his lecture by talking about his experiences in the Basque town of Oñati (Gipuzkoa) as a child, and then opened the floor to questions. 

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