Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral
1976-2001 ( inclusive )
1976-1978 ( bulk )
0.5 cubic foot, including 28
audiotapes (2 boxes)
The Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral
History Collection consists of transcripts and audiotapes of 15 oral history
interviews conducted in 1976 as part of an inventory of historic sites in
Harney County. Basque sheepherders immigrated to southeastern Oregon from the
1890s through the 1920s and worked as itinerant herders on the mountain ranges
of Harney County until the 1930s.
Oregon State University
Basque sheepherders immigrated from northern Spain and southwestern
France to southeastern Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada from the 1890s until the early
1920s. They worked as itinerant herders on the mountain ranges of Harney County
until the 1930s and often spent the winters in Basque boarding houses or
hotels, such as the Star Hotel in Burns. The Taylor Grazing Act, drought, and
the depression brought an end to the sheep industry in Harney County.
The Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral History Project was part of
an inventory of historic sites in Harney County conducted by Royal G. Jackson
and Jennifer A. Lee in 1976 and was funded by the OSU Research Council and the
Harney County Oral History Program. Jackson was an Associate Professor in the
Department of Resource Recreation Management at Oregon State University; Lee
was a student in that department fulfilling an internship requirement.
The Basques in Harney County, Oregon, Oral History Collection consists
of audiotapes and transcripts of oral history interviews conducted in 1976 by
Royal G. Jackson and Jennifer A. Lee. The collection includes audiotapes and
transcripts for 14 interviews and a transcript only of the interview with Alsna
The oral histories address a variety of topics pertaining to the Basques
in Harney County, including their work as sheepherders; Basque food and
festivals; use of the Basque language; discrimination and prejudice against
Basques; the Basque community in Burns, Oregon; other towns in the region,
including Nampa, Idaho, and McDermitt on the Oregon-Nevada border; and Basque
hotels and boarding houses including the Star Hotel and the Commercial Hotel in
The interviewees ranged in age from 30 to late 70s at the time of the
interviews in 1976. Most of the interviewees were born in Spain and came to the
United States in the 1910s and 1920s; five of the interviewees came to the
United States between 1954 and 1970. Several interviewees were born in the
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation :
Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral History Collection (OH 04),
Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.
This collection is arranged in two series: I. Audiotapes and II.
Transcripts. Some of the interviews were previously assigned individual
numbers; the OH04 item numbers were assigned by the Archives and the 986-
numbers by the Horner Museum.
Custodial History :
The audiotapes and copies of the 1977 transcripts were deposited by the
interviewers with the Horner Museum and subsequently transferred from the
Horner Museum to the Archives in 1996.
The audiotapes include an original field recording of the
interview and a duplicate use copy. Use copies of the unnumbered interviews
were made in 2001.
OH04:01; 986-1-45: Santos
Arguinchona was born in 1900 in Spain and came to
Winnemucca, Nevada in 1918.
The Arguinchona interview provides information about
sheepherding and camptending, Basque festivals, the Star Hotel in Burns,
Basques in Burns, Argentina, and McDermitt.
OH04:02; 986-1-46: Carlos Ereno
Ereno was born in Mampa, Idaho, in 1922; his parents came to
Idaho directly from Spain in the 1905 (father) and 1909 (mother).
The Ereno interview provides information about Nampa, Idaho;
Spain; and Spanish politics.
OH04:03; 986-1-47: Jean Harrit
Harrit was born in France in 1914 and came to Oregon in 1939
to join his brother who was a sheepherder.
The Harrit interview provides information about Basques in
Burns, sheepherding, the Hines Lumber Mill, and the Crane Land Sheep
OH04:04; 986-1-48: Martina Larraneta
Martina Larraneta was born in 1901 in Spain and came to San
Francisco in 1916. In 1920 she married a sheepherder and moved to Oregon.
Martina Larraneta's interview provides information about
Basques in Burns, Basque social activities, the Commercial Hotel in Burns, and
OH04:05; 986-1-49: Mike Larraneta
Mike Larraneta came to Winnemucca, Nevada, from Spain in
1920, at the age of 22 years.
Mike Larraneta's interview provides information about
working as a carpenter; Winnemucca, Nevada; and Spain.
OH04:06; 986-1-50: David Mallea
David Mallea was born in Jordan Valley, Oregon, in 1922. His
parents came to Idaho from Spain in 1902 (father) and 1905 (mother). His father
worked in the mines for several years and then as a sheepherder.
The Mallea interview provides information about Jordan
Valley, Spain, and Basques in Burns.
OH04:07; 986-1-51: Marguerite
Marguerite Stevens' parents came to Nevada from Spain in the
early 1900s; her father was a sheepherder.
The Stevens interview provides information about Basque food
and social events.
OH04:08; 986-1-52: Cecilia Urizer
Urizer was born in Spain in 1898 and immigrated to
McDermitt, on the Oregon-Nevada border, in 1916.
The Urizer interview provides information about McDermitt,
Andrews, the Star Hotel, Basques in Burns, and Spain.
Maria Baraibar came to the United States from Spain in
Maria Baraibar's interview describes her arrival in the
United States from Spain; learning English; Basque families and friends and
Burns; and children learning culture and language.
Nicholas Baraibar came to the United States from Spain in
1955, at the age of 16, to be a sheepherder.
Nicholas Baraibar's interview includes information about
sheepherding, Basque hotels in Burns, Basque friends and family, and Basque
festivals and social events.
Ebar came to the United States in 1921 from Spain.
The Ebar interview provides information on sheepherding; the
Central Hotel in Burns and other Basque hotels; traditional Basque dances; and
Basque food and cooking.
Marcelina Osa was born in Spain in 1921 and came to Oregon
with his family when he was five years old.
Osa's interview describes growing up in Burns as a Basque;
speaking Basque, Spanish, and English as a child; sheepherding; traditional
Basque dances and festivals; Basque prejudice in Burns; Basque hotels and
boarding houses; Native Americans; and the importance of the preservation of
Basque culture and language.
Vidando came to the United States in 1954 at the age of
The Vidando interview provides information about
sheepherding; Basque traditions, dances, and games; and misunderstandings among
Basques in Burns.
Zabala came to the United States in 1957 when he was 10
The Zabala interview provides information about his family's
arrival in Burns and acquisition of the Star Hotel; the Star Hotel's
transformation into a private residence; the decline of sheepherding;
discrimination in Burns toward Basques; Basque festivals and traditional
dances; and the Basque community in Burns.