Tuesday, March 31, 2009 • Basque Lamb Stew Feed

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, March 31, 2009 edition of the Lassen County Times.

The Susanville Eskualdunak Club and the Mendi Danzarriak Dancers will present the Ninth Annual Basque Lamb Stew Feed from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at the Monticola Club, 140 S. Lassen Street, in Susanville.

The dinner features traditional Basque lamb stew, Basque beans, green salad, cheese, bread and beverages. There also will be a silent auction.

The Stew Feed is one of three major events that the local Basque club puts on each year.

Michelle Zubillaga said the local club has been around for about 30 years — since the 1970s — and its membership is made up of Basque descendants and their families.

For many years, the Basque club held a potluck and the annual Basque Picnic, but now the stew feed has replaced those events as a fundraiser for the Mountain Dancers.

The Basque people are the subject of mystery. For example, no one is sure exactly where they came from. Anthropologists estimate they may have lived in the mountains between Spain and France for as long as 75,000 years. They have their own unique language, and scientists have been unable to discover its source.

“They don’t know where the language came from,” Zubillaga said, “even after all these years.”

Some sources even claim these questions are easily answered because the Basque people are really the descendants of the survivors of the disaster that destroyed Atlantis.

Zubillaga said she isn’t sure exactly when the Basque people arrived in the Honey Lake Valley, but sheepherders are depicted on the mural on the Doyle Motors building.

Many Basques took advantage of their sheepherding skills during the days of the Gold Rush, raising meat for the gold miners to eat.

“When the Basque people first came here, they were herding sheep,” Zubillaga said. “Later a lot of them went to work at the mill when it was Fruit Growers, before Sierra Pacific took over. A lot of them stayed at the mill through all the changes. The Basque people assimilated well, but they still kept their traditions and language.”

The club hopes to preserve the traditions and culture of the Basque people and pass those traditions down to the next generation.

All of the proceeds raised during the Stew Feed will help send the dance group to music camp.