Basque Story in Bilbao an Inspiration to Native Americans
It didn't take long after arriving in Bilbao, Spain before recognizing the beauty of the area. It reminded me of my home back in Colorado with the lush vegetation, rolling hills, and peaks. The comparisons didn't stop there as I quickly learned about the proud heritage of the Basque region. The Basque language and culture was embedded into everything from public art to local politics. This was very similar to my own Native American heritage, language, and culture. I quickly learned that my tribe could learn a lot from the Basque people about language preservation and how to incorporate it into everyday life. After hearing more about their struggle over time and the big gambles they made for a better future for their people, the power of their example really hit home. Bilbao's revitalization and plans for renewal are inspirational, yet it faced opposition on many fronts. One of the great things about the Bilbao plan for their community and their quest to capture the Guggenheim Museum is that the idea to revolutionize the city was at first unpopular. Nobody supported it. Bilbao’s goals were the butt of many jokes. Yet members of the community also saw the need for a better future for Bilbao and they worked together to change their destiny for the benefit of future generations. Their quest to capture the Guggenheim became not only their biggest challenge, but also their way to success. The Basque people held their elections a couple of days later and I was glad to see on the news that the election was a success for the Basque National Party and their future seemed even brighter. This once beaten community regained its strength, vision, and passion for their culture and heritage. This more than anything gives me inspiration and hope for my own community. We too are yet to see brighter days. Just like the Basque, my own tribal community struggles with language and culture preservation, education of young people, economic development of the community, and the future of health care. We have to take a chance even if all proposals don't work out. Seeking a common vision and fighting for the betterment of the community and future generations is always a good gamble. On both sides of the Atlantic, we will always need to find ways to deal with struggling economies and intergovernmental relations. But Bilbao’s story gives me a renewed passion and inspiration for my own people. Togo-aqk (thank you in my Ute language)! Ernest House, Esecutive Secretary for the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, is a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow
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