EITB Documentaries

Basque Public Television Documentaries


In 2018, while conducting interviews with Basques in northeastern Montana, the Basque Museum’s  Community History team members were shown pictures of a gathering that took place in 1991 of Basques from the Montana area with a photo/interview team from Euskal Irrati Telebista (eitb), Basque Public Television.  Many of the Montana Basques interviewed for the documentary are now deceased.  Patty Miller, Community History Project Director, recognized the lead for the documentary project, Ignacio Bizkarra, and contacted him to see if he would consider sharing a copy of the documentary with the Basque Museum.  He then informed Ms. Miller, that he had footage for 45 documentaries (some duplicates, but produced in Euskara and Spanish) that had been produced concerning various topics between 1991-2004 including stories of Basques from many western states.  We are grateful to Euskal Irrati Telebista (eitb), which owns the copyright and provided the Basque Museum & Cultural Center with an agreement for the documentaries to be converted, for preservation purposes, and to be housed at the Basque Museum. The documentaries are to be used strictly for educational purposes by the Basque Museum & Cultural Center.  We are also indebted to Ignazio “Inaki” Bizkarra for his work as the producer for the documentaries, and for his continued commitment to having the stories preserved and shared with the public.


The Idaho State Historical Records Advisory Board (Idaho SHRAB) provides grants to support projects that preserve and increase online access to Idaho’s historical records; develops and promotes archival and records management best practices; and supports work that connects people to primary sources in their communities and online.

These grants are made possible by funds received from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which Idaho SHRAB is then able to re-grant to Idaho non-profit organizations 501(c)(3), state agencies, tribal, city and county governments.

In 2021, Idaho SHRAB awarded a grant totaling $3,000 to the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, Boise. This enabled the organization, with matching funds from the Idaho Heritage Trust, a donation in memory of Dolores Barroetabena Holbrook, and an in-kind donation from Ignazio Bizkarra, to convert the documentaries into a user-friendly format.

THE IDAHO HERITAGE TRUST  The Idaho Heritage Trust preserves Idaho’s rich cultural history by providing grants and technical assistance to preservationists in every nook and cranny of the Gem State. Their grassroots efforts on behalf of all Idahoans honor the legacy of our ancestors, enrich our present, and ensure our collective heritage will be enjoyed for generations to come.

A continuation of the project will occur in the Fall of 2022, when English subtitles are added to selected documentaries.  Nere Lete, Professor of Basque in the World Languages Department at Boise State University, will be doing the translations and inserting the English subtitles into a number of the documentaries.


1. Euskaldunak Montana eta Wyomingen – “Basques in Montana and Wyoming.”

Filmed in 1991.  Interviews are with original Basque immigrants who came to the United States between the late 1910s and the early 1920s.  Most were ninety years of age when interviewed.

  • Pioneroak – “Basque Pioneers”– featuring the stories of three Basque pioneers who settled in the far-reaching expanses of Montana. Jean “John” Etchart, Jean “John” Esponda and Jean “John” Etchepare. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1992; Length: 34 minutes; Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English. Narrated by Ruper Ordorika].

  • Zelaietan Bizi – “Life on the Ranch”A glimpse into the lives of Basque sheepherders living in sheep wagons on the open plains. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1992; Length: 27 minutes; Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English. Narrated by Ruper Ordorika].

  • Arrantxoa eta Lana – “Work on the Ranch”documenting, with historic footage, what life on the ranch was like for Basques trying to establish themselves in Montana and Wyoming. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1992; Length: 30 minutes; Languages: Spanish/Euskara/English. Narrated by Ruper Ordorika].

  • Pirineotako Indioak – “Pyrenees Indians” Story of the Basque’s struggle and cultural preservation in the American West. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1992; Length: 31 minutes; Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English. Narrated by Ruper Ordorika].

2. Urrearen Irrika – “Searching for Gold.”

Filmed in 1992.  This series narrates the   beginning of Basque immigration to the West of the United States after the Gold Rush in 1849 (Note: There were Basques who arrived in present-day California 200-300 years before this).

  • Spanish RanchThe story of the Altube brothers from Onati who came to San Francisco, California from Chile during the Gold Rush in 1849. Settling first in Palo Alto, California, and then establishing a large ranch near Elko, Nevada. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1993; Length: 27 minutes; Languages:  Euskara/Spanish].

  • El Rey de Calabasas – “The King of Calabasas”Miguel Leonis from Cambo, France, arrived in California in 1850, during the time of the Gold Rush.  He gained great financial independence and settled in Malibu and Calabasas, California. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1993; Length: 31 minutes; Languages:  Euskara/English].

  • Pete Aguerreberry – Pete Aguerreberry emigrated from Maule, Zuberoa, France to California at the turn of the 20th He became a famous gold miner in Death Valley, where he utilized a viewpoint (settled in an area) known today as Aguerreberry Point. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1993; Length: 34 minutes; Languages:  Euskara/English].

  • Arbolak Mintzo – “The Trees Speak” – Basques wrote their names and dates, pains and desires by cutting them into the bark of aspen trees. Seventy years later, this documentary allows the trees to talk to the viewer about their odyssey. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1993; Length: 31 minutes; Language:  Euskara/English].

  • Ameriketan Euskaraz – “Speaking Basque in America” Basques in the United States have maintained the Basque language in contrast to Basques who emigrated to South America where the Basque language died out fast. Families, home on the range, taverns, Basque hotels and festivals have preserved Euskara in the USA. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1993; Length: 32 minutes; Language:  Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • Kantatzen eta Dantzatzen Desertuan – “Dance & Song in the Desert”Basques have preserved their culture, songs and dances, together with their food. They meet each other from state to state in the Basque festivals in the West. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista -©eitb 1993; Length: 32 minutes; Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • The Chiki Jai Basque Restaurant – There is a restaurant, the Chiki Jai, in front of the fronton in Tijuana, Mexico, where all the old-time/former pelotaris (jai alai players) meet to reminisce about the golden days of yore when the Hollywood stars, such as Jack Palace, Jimmy Durante, Ida Lupio, or Ava Gardner, came to Tijuana to the jai alai matches and to party with the tall, strong Basque ball players from the Basque Country from the towns of Deba, Gernika, Ondarroa, and Markina. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista – ©etib 1993; Length: 30 minutes; Language:  Euskara & Spanish].

3. Documentaries on Various Topics Concerning Basques in the United States which were produced between in 1994 and 2002.
  • Agindatutako Lur Maitia – “Sweet Promised Land.” This documentary is named after the title of Robert Laxalt’s book concerning his father’s odyssey in the western United States.  Dominique Laxalt arrived from Zuberoa at the turn of the 20th Century and his life is a wonderful example of Basque immigration to the West. Robert Laxalt also visits the Last Massacre, the site recounts the last time that Native Americans killed a group of Basque sheepherders and some cowboys in the area between Nevada and California.  The documentary is narrated by Robert “Bob” Laxalt. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista – ©eitb 1994; Length: 57 minutes; Language: Basque].

[Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista – ©eitb 1994; Length: 57 minutes; Language: English].

  • Moroniren Herrialdean – “In Moroni Country” – This the story of a Basque communities in Salt Lake City and in Utah. The documentary explains, for a Basque audience, the origin of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, known in Europe as the Mormon Church. The documentary tells the story of Basque emigrants settling in Utah, and their relationship with the Mormon way of life. One Basque sheepherder tells how he married a Mormon girl on the ranch, but he never surrendered his Catholic faith. The Basques families in Salt Lake City prospered and are well-respected; they also have big cellars filled with wine and alcohol to overcome the alcohol-free life of the Mormon community surrounding them. We see how the Utah Basques have kept their traditions, transmitting the Basque language, dances and stories (Mary Urresti Gaztambide), and we visit the LDS Genealogy Record Archives.  Mormon missionaries copied all the birth records from Basques churches in Spain and France. American-Basques can trace their genealogy at this center. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista – ©eitb 1996; Length: 45 minutes; Languages: Spanish/Euskara/English].

  • New Yorkeko Historiak – “Histories of New York”Most of the Basques who settled in the United States entered through Ellis Island in New York and almost 95% were received and sheltered at Valentin Aguirre’s Hotel in Greenwich Village in New York City. This is the story of the Basques in New York. From Ellis Island to Valentin Aguirre, to Paulino Uzcudun, Abraham Aspiri, Juan de Galindez, assassinated by Trujillo after being kidnapped in New York, Jose Antonio Agirre during the Basque Government exile, Emilia Doyaga and the Euskal Etxea (Basque Center) in Brooklyn, New York. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1997; Length: 1 hr.; Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • Ile Aux Basques“Basque Island” – This is the story of the new Basque Whaling Museum in Trois Pistoles, Quebec, Canada. The Basques arrived at the Saint Lawrence River before Chanplain. The town of Trois Pistoles has an island called  Ile Aux Basque (The Basques Island). There, there are the ruins of Basque ovens the Basque whalers used to melt the whale blubber. Trois Pistoles identifies with its Basque heritage and every year the town organizes a Basque Festival.  What makes Trois Pistoles different in Quebec is its Basque heritage. They are proud of it. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1997; Length: 1 hr. 31’. Languages: Spanish/Euskara/French].

  • Boiseko Euskaldunak: Jaialdi 2000 – “Basques of Boise: Jaialdi 2000” – A story about the Basque community today in Boise, Idaho, and its famous Jaialdi Festival. Interviews with Boise’s mayor, Dave Bieter, Pete Cenarrusa (Secretary of State), Basque Museum, Euskal Etxea, Gernika Tavern, Boise Txorizo factory (Gem Meat Packing), Basque sheepherders living in the hills, San Inazio Eguna festivities, Basque Block and Jaialdi Festival. A delegation of Basque government leaders also attend the festival. All of them get to know the American Basques. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 2000; Length: 1 hr. 1’. Language: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • Azken Artzaina – “The Last Herder”The Story of Dio Txoperena, from Goizueta (Nafarroa). Dio is the AT&T sheepherder of a famous and successful cell phone network advertising campaign. This documentary tells the story of the Txoperena family, as five brothers (including Dio) emigrated to the West of the USA. Dio tells his story from his days tending sheep and cattle in the plains of Wyoming until he established himself with his brother on ranches in Northern California by Tomales Bay. Dio Txoperena was selected by a Hollywood talent hunter and became the “AT&T Sheepherder.” Fame and glory ensued in his life and among the American-Basque Community. Dio Txoperena is the “last sheepherder,” one of the last Basques tending sheep on the prairies of the West.  Folksinger Jack “Rumbling” Elliot worked for Dio Txoperena and he speaks about the Basques in the West. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 2002; Length:  1 hr. 17’.  Language: Euskara/English].

  • Guggenheim Bilbao: Harri eta Zur – “A History of Stone and Titanium” – A documentary telling the story of the construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. The footage was recorded over a period of 4 years and it tells the story of how Bilbao was looking for a project that could change the image of decay and ruin of the post-industrial Bilbao. The idea of creating a Guggenheim Bilbao Museum was born and Frank Gehry became its architect. There was a political and artistic storm around the building of the museum. This film documents the troubles and successes of the new Guggenheim Bilbao. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1997; Length: 1 hr. 17’.  Language: Spanish/English].

  • Renoko Aste Nagusia – “Reno’s Basque Festival WeekA review of the Basque heritage in Nevada, especially in Reno and Northern Nevada and its border with California.
    Joxe Mallea visits the Basque tree carvings around Truckee, California and the surrounding areas of Reno, Nevada. We visit the Ascuaga Nugget Casino and John Ascuaga tells the story of his family in Nevada coming from Bizkaia.  We tour the Basque Studies Center at the University of Nevada, Reno with Dr. William “Bill” Douglass and we see the Basques dancing and gathering at the Reno Basque Week. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1997; Length:  63 min.  Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • Luces del Desierto – “Lights in the Desert” – Basque pilota (ball) players arrived in Las Vegas to play Jai Alai and this documentary highlights the development of the sport and Jai Alai fronton in “Sin City.” After the fronton closed, numbers of the Basque ball players joined the casinos as croupiers and floor managers.  We see the Basque community in Las Vegas as they meet for their picnic.  The former pelotaris (ball players) discuss, among other things, how the casino business has changed from the days of the mafia to the big corporations that run them today. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1997; Length:  29 min.  Languages: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • La Guerra de las Biblias – “Bible Wars.”The story of how the Evangelical churches are splitting the once-unified Catholic community of Mexicans. They story is filmed in California and Texas where two Dominican priests, Angel Vizcarra from Abadino, Bizkaia, and Father Madariaga, from Vergara, Gipuzkoa, explain their missionary work in Mexican and the United States and explain the conflict between different Christian denominations for a Basque audience in Europe. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista- ©eitb 1994; Length:  42 min.  Language: Spanish/English].

  • Kaliforniako Gobernadore Euskalduna – “Garamendi – A Basque Governor for California.” John Garamendi is the most popular Insurance Commissioner in California. He is now running to become the next governor of California representing the Democratic Party.  John Garamendi ran his election using his Basque ethnic background – prominently flying ikurrinas (the Basque flag) while he is accompanied by Basque dance groups from Chino and Chico in some of his primary electoral events.  This documentary tells the story of the primary and how John Garamendi’s ethnic Basque values and background from Bizkaia, helps the candidate navigate the high seas of the California politics. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista-© eitb 1994; Length:  31 min.  Language: Euskara/Spanish/English].

  • California: Vientos de Secession – “California: Winds of Succession.” In 1994 Californians voted on the ballot for a proposal that proposed to divide the state in two: Northern California and Southern California. The referendum about exercising self- determination is quite a conflictive issue in Spain and France. Not as much in the USA.  In this documentary Californians and Basques living in California shed their points of view on the issue, among them John Garamendi, California Insurance Secretary, a democrat very close to President Clinton, descendent from Basque from Bizkaia. He talks about his Basque background and relates to the issue of a divided California. [Copyright: Euskal Irrati Telebista-© eitb 1994; Length:  39 min.  Language: Spanish/English].