Robert Peter Laxalt was born on September 24, 1923, in Alturas, California, United States. He was a son of Dominique and Theresa (Alpetche) Laxalt.
Laxalt brought Basque identity to the forefront of those living in the Western States. Born on a livestock ranch during the Great Depression, he saw his father Dominique went out on the road doing whatever he could to make a living cause the depression. His mother heard that there was a Basque hotel in Carson City for sale called the French Hotel. The business went pretty well and even during Prohibition, the hotels served wine. The clientele was more American than Basque. The politicians took a liking to Paul at the time, said he'd be governor someday. Eventually, his father bought some ewes again and started buying private land so he would be able to run his sheep. He never wanted to be big again, because it was too risky. In the hotel, there were also many miners, prospectors, and buckaroos. In town, the Basques would wear their best suits every day. His father almost went crazy staying in the hotel, wanted to be outside in the mountains running sheep and cattle.
They knew most of the other families in the area, would travel around all the time. His father had only one American sheepherder, but he lost sheep. The significance of the Basque hotels were that they were a home away from home for the sheepherders, where they could speak Basque, play cards and have good food. About the herders, what they did and how they felt about their lifestyle. Who were the best sheepherders according to someone, scots, and Irishmen but the Basques would always stay with the sheep and never leave them.