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About the Colorado Euskal Etxea

Our Mission

We are a non-profit, non-political organization dedicated to uniting Colorado's Basques in order to preserve our heritage through educational opportunities and cultural exploration. We will accomplish this mission in cooperation through our membership in N.A.B.O. (North American Basque Organization, other Euskal Etxeak (Basque Centers) and the Eusko Jauelaritza (Basque Government).

Meet our 2023/2024 Board of Directors

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Mayi Petracek, President

My parents immigrated to the US in 1955; first to Buffalo, WY and then Southern California. My mother was from Ispoure, a village next to Donibane Garazi and my father from Irissary. I grew up in a very strong Basque community of Chino and Euskara was my first language. I learned to dance and performed with Gauden Bat for many years. I am a member of the Southern CA Euskuldun club. In 2010, my job brought me to the beautiful state of Colorado. I found this club through my search for a Basque restaurant and I joined in 2011; it’s been a wonderful organization and I hope we can grow our club and continue our traditions. I became president in 2012. In 2015, I was elected as Treasurer for North American Basque Organization.

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Vanessa Manjarrez, Secretary

My amatxi and aitatxi (grandmother & grandfather) immigrated to Pasadena, CA from the Basque Country (Luzaide, Spain) in the 1950s. I was born in Pasadena, CA and grew up as a Basque dancer and member of the Chino Basque club. My Basque heritage has always been an important part of my life so when I moved to Colorado in 2017, I searched for a Basque club to be a part of. Luckily, I found the Colorado Euskal Etxea and have been a member since. I am currently serving as the Board's Secretary.

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Nicole Lecumberry, Treasurer

I grew up in Carson City, Nevada and spent a lot of time going to the different Basque events in Northern Nevada. My grandfather, Frank Bengochea, came from Lekeitio. I married my husband, Chris, in Reno, Nevada and we moved to Colorado in 1999. When we had our two girls (Kendall & Kylie), we were sad that we were so removed from the Basque culture in Nevada. Then, in 2023, we met Michael Matassa, the founder of Colorado Euskal Etxea and the four of us have been proud members ever since.  

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Jone Brunelle, Board Member

My mom is from the town of Oñati. Basque was one of my first languages, along with English, but I “lost” a lot of it while growing up in Virginia. Questioning my linguistic and cultural identity led me to study communication and ultimately earn a PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where my dissertation was about Basque Americans living in the US and participating in Basque cultural events. I sought out the Colorado Basque Club when I moved here in search of connection to my heritage. Through my membership I have met Basques living not only in this state but across the U.S. and beyond. I’ve taken language classes, watched cooking demonstrations and Basque films, danced Basque dances, and made wonderful friends.

Antonio Simental, Board Member 

A descendant of the many Basque Colonizers of Northern Mexico from both sides of my family. I discovered the Colorado Euskal Etxea in hopes of finding a way to reconnect to my older Basque Ancestry in a meaningful way. As a professional Chef, I like to pull recipes, flavors, and techniques from the Basque Country to serve guests at the Plimoth Restaurant in Denver, to promote Basque Cuisine.

Joaquin Garcia, Board Member 

My claim to Basque fame can be directly attributed to my grandmother. Her name was Manuela
Mujica/Muxika, and she was for Bilbao. I am a military veteran who served a stint in Naval Aviation and moved to Colorado in 2004 with my wife, Trudy. 

I've always loved Olympic style weightlifting and often lifted heavy, irregular shaped objects to develop better overall strength. I adapted the art of hefting stone lifting which just so happens to be a Basque national sport. I wanted to be a United States based Harri-Jasotzaile and searched for information and local training on the ancient sport. While those efforts were fruitless, I found Mayi, our Club president, and she signed me up as a member, and as they say, the rest is history. 

The Founding of Colorado Euskal Etxea

In the early and mid 20th century, Colorado was a popular immigration point for Basques coming to the American west. Basques settled many hours west of Denver in western slope towns like Grand Junction, Montrose, Fruita, and Telluride. If Basques were ever in Denver, they were most likely passing through the big city on their way to a ranching or agriculture community. Although Basques didn’t congregate in Denver during their historic immigration period, there are Basques in the Denver area now and they have been brought together through their common link.

In an unlikely place for a Colorado Basque club, Denver is the home of Colorado Euskal Etxea (CEE). Michael Matassa and Chris Suazo founded Colorado Euskal Etxea in the fall of 2003. Both Michael and Chris knew there must be Basques living in and around Denver but didn’t have a common connection point like Basques living in other western states. Chris and Michael chose to place “Colorado” in the club’s name in hopes that the club would draw members from the existing Basque communities in other parts of the state. Although Basques from the Denver area make up a large percentage of the membership, there are members all over the state. Through word of mouth and the club’s online presence, the club continues to grow.

 

The members of Colorado Euskal Etxea have diverse connections with all parts of Euskal Herria. Some members are the children and grandchildren of Basque sheepherders while others can trace their ancestry hundreds of years back to the Basque Country. Some were born and raised in Euskal Herria while others have experienced Basques and are now enthusiasts. Some members have been speaking Euskara their whole life. Others are finally learning to speak their ancestor’s tongue.

 

Though our club is relatively small and we do not have an actual etxea (house) to call our own, we are quite active in terms of cultural and social events. We have multiple events a year focused on building community, sharing our culture & preserving our culture and hope you'll consider joining our club! 

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