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Basque Sheepherder to Share Sheepherding Stories
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Wednesday, October 6, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Alberto Uranga was but a young man when he came from the Basque country to the United States in 1968, getting a gig as a sheepherder in the mountains near Sun Valley.

During his years as a sheepherder, he amassed a long list of stories, including that of a harrowing evening in a blizzard near Baker Lake where he was all but certain he had lost the sheep entrusted him.

Uranga, now a financial planner living in Ketchum, will tell “Stories from My Early Days as a Sheepherder” during a virtual conversation hosted at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, by the Hailey Public Library. RSVP to Kristin.fletcher@haileypubliclibrary.org

The talk is running in conjunction with the 25th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival, which officially kicks off today and runs through Sunday, Oct. 10 with a multitude of events in Ketchum and Hailey.

Uranga was born and raised in a small Basque fishing village founded in 1209 in northern Spain. After serving in the Spanish Navy, he decided to seek a life of adventure and came to the United States, not speaking a word of English. He became an American citizen in 1974 and started selling insurance door to door before opening his own financial services business in 1984.

His Lasaii Benefits is a financing company that helps clients purchase real estate.

Uranga has been a board member of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival for 20 years.

 Kristin Fletcher, programs director for the library, calls Uranga the last of the original Basque sheepherders.

Alberto travelled to the United States as a 22-year-old adventurer in 1968 and took the only job he could find--as a sheepherder in the mountains around the Wood River Valley,” she said. “He worked three lonely, yet adventurous, years and will share some of those stories with us.” 

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