Basque Culture in Boise

The Boise Basque Block is an entire city block dedicated to the culture and heritage of Basque in Boise and across the United States. Located along the entire length of Grove Street, this area features museums, restaurants, music events, and annual festivals. The historic block is home to one of the largest Basque communities in the United States with an estimated 16,000 residents.

Drawn to the United States by the gold rush of 1848, waves of Basque people arrived in the U.S. and settled around Los Angeles. After becoming established in southern California, their populations expanded and followed the discovery of gold to northern California and Nevada. By 1890 the Basques had moved into Oregon and southern Idaho, and by 1910 they had spread throughout the West.

Basque peoples focused their efforts on establishing themselves in the region through various economic endeavors, such as sheep herding. The Basque style of sheep herding is one of solitude in which the shepherd is out alone with only the animals that he cares for. These grazing practices helped shape the ecological landscape of the regions that were used. Furthermore, it drove the Basques to the regions and industries that they are currently in today. This is shown through their large populations in areas such as Fruitland, Idaho and Ontario, Oregon. These cities have long histories of Basque culture and deep ties to the traditions that they hold dear.

After months of this lonely schedule, men commonly rented rooms at Basque boarding houses that housed their fellow countrymen. These would be places to relax, court potential wives, and reconnect with their culture. A boarding house was the key factor in establishing what is today the Boise Basque Block. The Cyrus Jacobs/Uberuaga House served as a Basque boarding house in Boise from 1910 until 1968. Today it stands in the center of the block and is a museum dedicated to the Basque community.

With such an established Basque community in Boise centered around the Cyrus Jacobs/Uberuaga House, it was decided in 1949 to build the Basque center right next door. This place served as a location for gatherings and events as well as a location to preserve the heritage of the Basque people. Their influence began to spread throughout Boise as their population grew and various businesses and restaurants came up throughout the city.

The Boise Basque Block became such an influence on the community that in 1987 the festival of Jaialdi was held there. Jaialdi celebrates the patron saint San Ignacio of Loyola and is in an effort to educate the public of the Basque culture and be part of Basque activities. This is a festival that is held the last weekend in July every five years with an average attendance of 40,000 people. It has become a highlight for all of Basque people in the Pacific Northwest.

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611 W Grove St, Boise, ID 83702