Originating in the landlocked parts of France and Spain formerly known as the Kingdom of Navarre, the Basque people may best be known for their recent history of sheep herding and ranching in the American West.
At the start of the 1840s Gold Rush, Basque settlers made their way to places like Nevada and Idaho, where they sought their fortunes in the many gold and silver mines that populated the region. Some arrived by traveling west across the land, others made their way north from Central America, where the promise of riches hadn’t quite panned out. Once here, the Basque quickly established themselves as vital parts of the community, tending to sheep and working the often-difficult land to eke out a living.
Over the years, Basque culture has become an integral part of the Western experience, with communities thriving around Elko, Reno, Boise and Salt Lake City. Today, visitors to Elko can get a real taste of Basque culture at any of the town’s Basque restaurants and at the National Basque Festival, held each summer in Elko.