Echanis, Martina Yraguen

Mikel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Ontario, Oregon
Interview Date: 

Martina was born in Vale, Oregon, on 18 April 1925, to Jose Yraguen and Claudia Acordagoitia.  Interested in her heritage ever since her mother sang to her in Basque as a child, she has researched her parents' immigrations to the US, and shares some of her discoveries.  Martina has seven brothers and sisters, and recalls the cramped conditions of the tiny house with the dirt floor they lived for a time.  Although her family didn't keep in close contact with relatives in Euskadi, they often socialized with neighboring Basques, and she grew up fluent in Euskera.

It was a tradition in Martina's family for the kids to leave school at age 15, so she decided to become a beautician.  In her family, dating was not allowed unless it was with a Basque boy, but she met the man of her dreams in Lorenzo Echanis; the couple was married in 1946.  Martina describes the 3 excruciating years that Larry was in the war, during which she prayed for his safety.

Martina and her husband have 4 children, all of whom can speak a little Euskera.  She is a charter member of the Ontario Basque Club, of which she has been a part for over 50 years.  Martina has made several trips to Euskadi to connect with her culture, and although she identifies herself primarily as an American, her Basque heritage is an integral part of who she is.Marti

Audio Recording: 
Parents' Engagement
Growing Up Bilingual
Marrying Basque
Other Images: