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Las Vegas Paiute Colony life

By Angela

 

MyraOn Las Vegas Boulevard at the corner of Washington, they had gobs of berries. They were called bayoot in Indian, little red berries. We’d get coffee can buckets and fill them with berries. Our dog would come with us. He would eat all the berries from the bottom and we would pick them from the top.


This area was full of native foods. That’s all gone. Across the street from the Indian colony, they had Indian paintbrushes growing wild there. That’s where Palm Mortuary is now.


There were days when my friend and I would go to gather mesquite beans. We would make sandwiches of homemade bread and bacon. We would taste the beans and see which was the sweetest. We would wait for my grandmother to pound the beans. She would use a canvas and a long rock. She would pound it (vertically). My girlfriend and I would throw the beans in and she would pound it. It would become a powdery sticky stuff. It would harden. With the humidity it would harden. We would store it and during the winter, what a treat.


Even now, the ones that come off our tree, I love them. The dogs love them.


We’d go pick spinach out in the desert, my grandmother and I. This would be January/February. It was tumada, Indian spinach. You know how kids don’t eat spinach? But native kids loved this. You’d fry it in bacon grease, it was the best thing ever eaten. I’m sorry our little nieces and nephews never had a chance to taste it.


The wild grapes, my grandmother used tomake jam out of them. There was a gully all the way down, and it would be full. The days we weren’t picking grapes, my girlfriend and I would play in there. Yeah, those days are gone. I feel sad when I see all the vegetation gone. ...


Colony life was very hard. No water, no electric. We had to walk to the outhouse, no matter what the weather was. Rainy, cold. We had three outhouses at the base of the hill where my friend and I played. Funny thing is, we had all our dogs following behind us. Everywhere, we had our dogs. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I read newspaper clippings that I found with my mother’s things, that they wanted to do away with us here and move us elsewhere. ...


They had a produce company next door to us, called Rocky Mountain Produce. That is where we all trash-picked, the kids and I. We’d run over to the warehouse and say, “I dibs that trash can, I dibs that one.” We’d get fruit, avocado. The guys there would put out boxes of fruit that were a little spoiled and we’d pick out the good ones. We didn’t think about it, but that’s how poor we were. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have had our fruits and vegetables. Watermelon – you know the heart of the watermelon, we’d take big handfuls. If there was a little crack in one, the guys would leave it out on the loading dock.


When there wasn’t anything there, my girlfriend and I would play jacks on the loading dock until they threw something out. We got our water from the warehouse too. On hot days, we would put on swimming suits—we got from boxes of clothing the community would give to the colony—and stand under the faucet like we were swimming.

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