Basques in Bakersfield

photo credit

There's a new book out, one that will never be known and probably almost never read, but is full of incredible stories about the American history of one of the world's most mysterious people groups: the Basques.

The Basques of Kern County, by Stephen Bass and George Ansolabehere, tells this unique story of a people "guided by a fierce internal drive that told them they'd have to work harder than anyone else to earn any sense of belonging".

Our history books often call Basques 'Spaniards', but it's not hard to distinguish them either by their occupation (shepherd), their looks (noses!), and their work ethic (oh-so-unSpanish). This book, however, is full of legit personal histories, like this one from Jean Arambel:

The worst thing about sheepherding was the loneliness and cold in the desert. These were the hardest things I remember. Most of the time I spent in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by myself with my two dogs and a donkey. The camp tender came once a week with supplies but only stayed one or two hours. I looked forward to these visits because it gave me a chance to speak to another human being and to speak to someone in the Basque language. It was very lonesome but I had no choice.

For more, read the article here.