Dan Ansotegui awards ceremony

Dan Ansotegui, a Basque accordion player from Boise, speaks at the 2019 National Heritage Fellowships awards ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

Dan Ansotegui took the stage at the Library of Congress tonight with eight other National Endowment for the Arts 2019 National Heritage Fellows, the “nation’s highest honor for traditional artists,” according to Carla Hayden, the nation’s 14th Librarian of Congress. Mary Anne Carter, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, said the nine fellows “preserve the history and heritage of this great nation.“

Ansotegui, of Idaho, was honored as “a bearer of Basque music, dance and foodways traditions that contribute to the creative growth and sustainability of his cultural community.” Idaho Sen. Jim Risch and his wife, Vicki, presented Ansotegui with the award; a medal was hung around his neck.

“Thank you so much,” Ansotegui told the crowd amid cheers and applause. “A good part of the family’s here — we’re trying to figure out a place for 30 of us to eat.”

He joined Crow storyteller Grant Bulltail of Montana, African-American storyteller Linda Goss of Baltimore, Md., and an array of other fellows at the ceremony. They’ll perform Friday night at a concert featuring performances, demonstrations, and stories from the 2019 fellows "highlighting the richness of our country’s cultural traditions;" it’ll be available for viewing through a live webcast at arts.gov. You can read more about the award here.

Said Risch, “Dan, we’re so proud of you.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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