NOR-ZER GAREN: Member Data
"Nor" in Basque means who; "zer" means what. NABO was founded as a federation of Basque entities that endeavor to promote Basque culture. For NABO to be worthwhile, we need to find out more about who and what we are; what are our needs & aspirations, etc.
NABO counts nearly three dozen member organizations, but we lack an updated base of information about who and what we are. That is why NABO is commencing an effort to compile information about our Basque clubs & communities. This effort to compile this data is necessary for at least three reasons: we need this information to assist with the publication of a book on the history of NABO that is forthcoming; second the Basque Government is oftentimes blind when they are endeavoring to allocate financial assistance to entities of which they have only sketchy knowledge; and third, if NABO is going to better serve its members--we too need to know who and what we are. Accordingly, NABO is commencing an effort to acquire this information so that together we might be able to provide mutual support.
The North American Basque Organizations, Inc., commonly referred to by its acronym N.A.B.O., is a service organization to member clubs that does not infringe on the autonomy of each. Its prime purpose is the preservation, protection, and promotion of the historical, cultural, and social interests of Basques of North America.
The founding of NABO reaches to meeting of Basque-Americans in Reno, Nevada back in March of 1973. The point of the meeting was a questionable proposal, especially considering Basque history. This group hoped to forge a federation and create a network within the larger Basque community of the United States. The Basque country, or "Euskal Herria," had never been "Zazpiak-Bat" (the seven provinces are one) representing a unified, self-conscious political community. Euskal Herria most often referred to just the local region. Basques from Bizkaia in the South, for example, had little interaction with Basques in the northern province of Zuberoa.
This detachment was reflected in the Basque communities of the United States. Basques of Bizkaian descent in parts of Idaho and Nevada interacted little with the Basques of California which were largely northern or "French Basque." Thus when delegates from the Basque clubs of Los Banos and San Francisco, California; Boise and Emmett, Idaho; Elko, Ely and Reno, Nevada; and Ontario, Oregon gathered together, they were well aware that there was little if any communication among the various Basque clubs of the American West. They were attempting to cross the divide--real and imagined--between Basque-Americans, and their venture remained uncertain. Would "French" Basques and "Spanish" Basques join a federation to work together? Would individual clubs set aside competition in an effort to preserve and promote their shared heritage? Now tree plus decades and counting, the answer remains a resounding yes!
Since our founding we have seen the creation of many more Basque organizations that make it their aim to promote our heritage here in the Basque Diaspora. Our oldest member is the Eusko Etxea of New York City, founded in 1913 (incidentally they are hosting the NABO Convention in 2013 so mark your calendars) and our youngest is newly formed Iparreko Ibarra club of Rocklin, Ca. Most our members are Basque social clubs, but we also count a handful of educational organizations. We also know that clubs have formed in New Mexico and a new one is about to launch in Washington D.C. There will be an attempt to re-start the club in New Orleans. NABO endeavors to do what it can to support these efforts to create new Basque organizations.
According to the last national census, we know that there are Basques in all fifty states. The highest number is in California with approximately 21,000, then Idaho has 7,000 and Nevada with 6,000. All told, there are about 58,000 people who self-define as being Basque. Only a fraction of these, about 10 percent, have joined a Basque organization. On that front, collectively we sure could use more people to join the ranks of the willing: those willing to make a concentrated effort to keep our Basque heritage alive. That is why we encourage people to Hurbil Zaitez: please come closer.
While we sure would like to see the number of members in local clubs grow, we nevertheless need to learn more about the people who are already there. Our Basque-American community might well be growing, but we need to guard against it just growing in breadth and not depth. An earlier reference to this cited the book title of years ago "Chorizo, Beans and other things." It was a collection of poems with some illustrations, but the title aptly captured the challenge confronting our evolving Basque-American community. We have it quite clear what chorizo and beans are (even though we might argue over the preferred recipe), but what about the "other things?" This is now NABO's focus. Whereas recreation is of course essential so that people enjoy themselves at Basque events, we also need to provide substance as well because a culture endures only if one generation succeeds in transmitting key elements to the next.
With an eye on what could be done more effectively to strengthen Basque identity, NABO is presently developing a four year plan to give us collectively and individually a list of suggestions. That is why we need to find out more about who and what we are. This effort will compile general information (e.g., club address, list of regular events, cultural activities hosted, etc.) as well as a brief description of members to ascertain general things like how many men and women, how many youth are involved, etc. With this foundation, we'll be better placed to then develop more effective strategies for the preservation of our Basque heritage. Thus we have some heavy lifting to do ahead of us if we want to make sure that this will be something that Basque kids today will be able to pass on to their kids.