The New England Basque Club, a non-profit organization and official member of NABO (North American Basque Organizations), is a group that is registered with and recognized by the Basque government. Our goal is to celebrate Basque culture and traditions, and above all, to preserve them and to promote them in New England.
Our beginnings are tied closely to Jai Alai. In the early nineties we were simply a large group of pelotaris living in different parts of New England. When the different Jai Alais were still open, there was no need for a club: we all knew each other and we were always together. Quite regularly we would watch soccer games together (most of us were Athletic Club de Bilbao fans, but we also welcomed a few Real Sociedad and Osasuna fans), and every so often we would organize picnics and paella dinners for our families and friends in order to make them a part of our community as well. We all traveled frequently to the Basque Country, and even though we were living such a long distance away, we found it quite easy to keep up with everything that was going on at home.
When the Newport Jai Alai closed in 2003, a number of pelotaris left. Those of us who remained did so for different reasons: some had married and started our families here, others had retired from Jai Alai and had begun new careers in New England. With the Newport Jai Alai closed, we found it necessary to make a greater effort to stay in touch, so we began to meet once every month in order to have dinner together and catch up. We would also come together for celebrations of important Basque holidays, like txitxiburduntzi and Andra Maris. This is the way that our club began.
In the year 2004, the Rhode Island Basque Club was officially constituted and we began offering Euskera classes and organizing cultural events. Through these activities we were able to raise awareness about the presence of Basques in our region and, as a result, our membership grew as more people who were equally passionate about and engaged with Euskal Herria heard of our efforts. The increase in the number of members deciding to join us in this common endeavor has strengthened our commitment to work together and expanded of the scope of our activities.
In only ten years our membership has grown from a group of ex-pelotaris based primarily in Rhode Island to include people from all walks of life, representing multiple generations, living around all of New England. For that reason, in 2014 we decided to officially change our name to the New England Basque Club. Some of us are Basque by birth, others by adoption, some by blood, others by marriage. We are united by strong personal connections to Euskal Herria.
Our hope is to continue growing in the future and to contribute in important and meaningful ways to the Basque diaspora. We are proud of our language, culture and traditions and we want to preserve them, pass them on to our children and share them with the people of New England. In order to nurture our roots and pass our heritage on to others, we organize a variety of activities every year: Euskera classes, cultural workshops, rural sports exhibitions, concerts, lectures, arts and crafts activities for children, and film series.
With your help, we will continue to grow. Join us.