The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 138
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
These alone justify the first archbishop of Mexico City sharing space with a folk-
dance teacher, explorers (who certainly deserve the qualifier "intrepid"), sheep-
herders, and boardinghouse keepers.
The first section, "The Basque Diaspora in the New World," describes a hand-
ful of courageous souls rather than the host of people the term implies. Ralph
Vigil has written a scholarly portrayal of Don Fray Juan de Zumirraga, the
Franciscan cleric who became the first archbishop of Mexico City. Ever loyal to
the Spanish Crown, Zumirraga distinguished himself on many counts, not least
by his concern for the indigenous population at a time when the Indians were
generally deemed an impediment to conquering the New World.
Don Juan de Oiiate established the frontier province of New Mexico, anchor-
ing Spanish power along the reaches of the Rio Grande. Marc Simmons deftly
pays homage. Oiiate epitomizes the leitmotif for the book--Basque fortitude
and devotion to family.
If the Basques indeed numbered one of the tribes that moved from North
Africa to Spain in antiquity, then they remain, as von Humboldt suggested, the
only pure descendants of the ancient Iberians. Their paths led them far afield.
Juan Batista de Anza was the Spanish king's representative in Sonora, then ven-
tured northward into Alta California and, along with his lieutenant, was likely
the first European to stand on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate.
Later chapters are less scholarly, exploring themes of immigration and assimi-
lation of Basque families in the Plains states and the West. Although traditionally
sheepherders, back home as well as in the United States, several found opportu-
nities to diversify. Pete Cenarrusa became Idaho's secretary of state. Author
Robert Laxalt brought awareness of Basque immigration and tradition with Sweet
Promised Land, the fictionalized biography of his father.
As the early chapters are academic and the later ones generally more personal
and affectionate, they effectively present a glimpse of a little-known ethnic
group, rather than a panorama. Thus the book complements the recent Basque
History of the New World by Mark Kurlansky, pointing out the trees, as it were,
rather than the forest, and getting to know a discrete ethnic group as an extend-
ed family. One slight regret is that the longtime Basque community of San
Antonio has been ignored.
Austin, Texas Jane Manaster
Czech Americans in Transition. Edited by Clinton Machann. (Austin: Eakin Press,
1999. Pp. xvii+135. Preface, introduction, maps, notes, about the authors.
ISBN 1-571-68298-8. $18.95, cloth.)
If you know little or nothing about Czech people in America, this slim but
warm book will be a great beginning for you. For those with a firmer back-
ground in immigration and ethnic development, this collection of essays will
also be very informative. In July 1997 Belton, Texas, hosted the annual meeting
and conference of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences. Exhibiting a
strong sense of cooperation, this international society was helping to celebrate
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/166/ocr/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.