Hope Folklife Festival brings light to issues affecting Basque region

Basque sign greeting people as they enter the festival.

Basque sign greeting people as they enter the festival on the National Mall. Photo credit Paige Goldstein.

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates the cultures of the Basque people through dance performances, food tents and cultural exhibitions at the National Mall where visitors were greeted with an over-sized white sign during Wednesday’s opening ceremonies. 

The Basque people are an indigenous ethnic group location on the border of Spain and France. The people call themselves the euskaldunak, literally meaning “the Basque person.”

“I think the festival represented our culture well,” said Daniel Roth, a citizen of the Basque community.

Currently, many controversial topics including Basque independence, have been discussed in the community and those who attended Wednesday’s opening ceremonies hoped the festival would bring more attention to what they consider crucial issues. 

But despite the controversy, many attendees knew little or nothing about the issues impacting the Basque region and its people.

“I’ve never heard of them until I heard about the festival,” said Keani Solorzano, 18.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings attention to this unique culture, as well as starting the conversation about a free Basque State.