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  • From the California Gold Rush in 1849 through the 1940s, almost all Basques entered the United States with plans to work the ranges as itinerant sheepherders until they could gain a foothold in the United States or until they could return to their Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France (Euskal herria) with the rewards of their toil. The earliest two hundred Basque settlers came to California during the height of the gold rush (between 1849 and 1852) from Latin America and Mexico with “gold fever.” Their participation in gold mining was relatively short lived, however.

    Major factors leading to the marked increase of Basques settling in the western United States were the completion of the transcontinental railroad and Basque dominance in the nascent sheep ...

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