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by Wildcat Dianne
May 31, 2007
Several of the boarding houses are still standing on Grove and 5th Streets. The Leku Ona is now a hotel and restaurant while the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House is part of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center.
Built in 1864, the Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House is the oldest brick building in Boise and was a Basque boarding house from 1910-1970 for Basque immigrants from Spain. Eventually Boise, Idaho was home to the second largest Basque population in the U.S.A.
One needs to make an appointment in advance to tour the Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House, which houses exhibits, photo displays, and Basque artifacts. I will be making reservations in the near future to tour the home. I hear the exhibits are done by Basque descendants in costume. It is a gathering place for all who want to learn about the Basque Culture and participate in its activities.The Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House is open the same time as the museum. For more information, go to www.basquemuseum.com or call (208) 343-2671 to make reservations for tours or plan a reception or special occasion.
From journal Euskadia: Boise's Basque Culture
The covered wagon they lived in was tiny and would have been very crowded for two people, but they were newlyweds and liked being with each other. The bed took up the back of the wagon, and the front was a little pantry with shelves filled with canned goods and appliances.
After touring the museum, Mom and I returned to the little souvenir shop and asked the curator, Christy, about visiting the Jacob-Uberuaga Boarding House, but you can only see that with an appointment, Christy said. I told her I was surprised that the Guernika exhibit was gone, and she was shocked to see that it was taken down, too. The place that housed the Guernika exhibit will be replaced with a mural that will be part of the History of Basque Whaling Exhibit that takes place in July.We all got talking about how Mom and I got to Idaho and about Basque History and Culture. I told Christy I had been there the Saturday before for a funeral reception, and she said that the Basque sure know how to throw a wake and drink. Christy said that she was of Scottish and Basque heritage, and we talked about how Franco tried to suppress the Basque people by banning their language and culture. Christy said that when she visited Spain in the 1970s, she spoke a little Basque, and someone warned her that she could go to jail for speaking Basque in public. After Franco's death in 1975, King Juan Carlos took over and granted some autonomy to the Basque people, and there are two representatives in the Spanish Parliament.The Basque Museum and Cultural Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturdays from 11am 3pm. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
The Basque Museum and Cultural Center are two separate buildings on Grove and 5th Streets in Downtown Boise. The bigger Cultural Center is a raised beam, Tudor-style building that is used for weddings and other big parties. The museum is a smaller, newer building behind the cultural center. The day of the funeral, a couple of family friends and I were the first to arrive for the reception, and we waited outside to get the other guests in the right building. Otherwise, we would have been in the middle of a wild wedding reception and not a somber funeral reception.
I brought Mom back with me to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center the following Wednesday to check out the exhibits without shuffling through crowds. It was worth the second trip.
The museum walls are lined with several photos of Basque women who immigrated to Idaho as early as the 1920s. Most of them came because their husbands were already here making a living as sheepherders or other work. Other Basque women came to get married, and the later immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s came for work as domestics and later started their own businesses or became teachers of the Basque language.
Another part of the Basque exhibits included Basque Dance, Sports, and other cultural aspects. When the most recent group of Basque came to Idaho, they noticed that there was not Basque dance groups and started their own dance clubs. They grew to many members and have travelled around the USA and Europe, including their old homeland in the Basque Region of Spain.The Basque also brought jai alai and sports similar to Scottish Highland games to Idaho, and they built a couple of Catholic churches in the Boise area, St. Mary's (where the funeral was held) and St. Charles' Church.
One of the biggest exhibits was right in the middle of the museum. It was a covered wagon used by some of the first Basque sheepherders. Reconstructed to its early 20th century look, it was home for a Basque sheepherder and his wife, who helped out hubby with the sheepherding along with cooking and other domestic duties.
To be continued.