The Basque, a ‘Resilient Community’



Basque woman, Idoia Etxeberria lifts a 350-lb stone as part of the Basque traditional sport Bortoko Kirolak. Idoia Etxeberria describes herself in one word — “Consistent.”

The Folklife Festival is an event held every year that is described as a celebration of “resilient communities around the world,” according to the Smithsonian Institution, the event’s sponsor. This year the Smithsonian Institution recognized Southern California and the Basque cultures.
On July 7, 2016, journalists from the Summer Youth Employment Program | HumanitiesDC summer program shared in the festivities. At first, students thought it was going to be boring, but the rich and multifaceted Basque culture intrigued them.
The Basque culture emphasizes sports that are focused around stamina and strength. Current women’s stone lifting champion Idoia Etxeberria Kutza demonstrated her weight-lifting prowess and discussed her experiences with the sport.
She started lifting when she was 14 and attributes her success to her “consistency” because of all the time she has put into this sport, as well as the lessons she has learned from it.
“While you learn things from lifting stones, you learn a lot more from not being able to lift those stones,” Kutza explained.
In addition to sports, the Basque culture has been known for its salt industry. The salt valley in the northern region of the country is considered to be as big as 12 professional soccer fields.
Also at the festival were a father-daughter team, Jean-Pierre Errecart and Sandrine Lasserre, who make espadrilles. They had their supplies and samples of the espadrilles shoes on display. They were twisting the material into the necessary forms for the shoes. The father said he is proud of founding the Prodiso company in 1974 and that his biggest strength is being able to work for himself. The Basque tradition of making espadrilles is one that has been around for thousands of years.