My father, Earl E. Pyatt, often talked about living on an Indian reservation when he was young. He always commented to us on how all they had to eat was pinto beans and creamed corn. He loved pinto beans but never really acquired a liking for creamed corn…hardly remember it ever being served at our house. My nephew was doing a report in school on Indians of the Southwest and my father sent the following information to him regarding his life there.
Excerpt from my Dad’s letter dated 8/31/2003 to Steven (his grandson) regarding life on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
“When I was about four years old my father worked for an oil drilling company and we lived in company housing on the Navajo reservation. This was in the Four Corner’s area west of Shiprock, NM along the Utah-Arizona border. I was the only kid in the oil camp and so the kids I could play with were all Navajo. They didn’t speak any English, but I did learn a few words in Navajo. I guess we used a sort of sign language and didn’t need words just to play.
I remember playing in and around their hogan and remember the smoky mesquite aroma from their clothing and inside where their mother cooked their meals. Another thing I remember was playing “stick horse” – running around after each other with a broomstick between our legs pretending it was a horse.
We lived there until I was school age and then moved to a town in New Mexico so I could go to school. Later, during World War II, I was in the New Mexico National Guard and had several friends there who were Navajo. In the combat area in the Philippines, they were in charge of telephone communications and passed information in Navajo so they would not be understood by the enemy. All the Navajo people I have known were very nice people and I enjoyed knowing them.”