I'm trying to locate the title or author of — or some leads to — a short story that may be from the Golden Age.
"Peek! I See you!", a novelette by Poul Anderson, first published in Analog, February 1968.
I read it in a short story collection which I probably bought in the 1960–1980 time frame.
Probably the 1975 Poul Anderson collection Homeward and Beyond.
Private human pilot sees what he thinks is a space ship over a fairly uninhabited area
He took lessons and got his license. Then he bought himself a used VTOL aircraft and went to scout the territory.
Thus it was that he saw the spaceship.
He was droning leisurely along at about 3500 meters. The peaks were not extremely far below him. Their landscape was awesome: vast, steep, cragged, a ruddiness slashed by mineral ochers and blues, a starkness little relieved by scattered mesquite, greasewood, and sagebrush. Here and there, a streamlet turned the bottom of a canyon green. But mostly this was desert land, people-empty land, hawk, buzzard, jackrabbit, and coyote land. The sun was westering in a deep, almost purple sky. Updrafts boomed briefly and trickily, shaking the plane in its course.
[. . . .]
But it was real. Not just his rocking mind said so. His instruments did.
Other memories from boyhood and youth boiled up. "Judas Priest," he whispered. That's a sho-nuff flying saucer."
in a Navajo or Pueblo reservation (or some other Native American reservation).
Updrafts were tricky; and this was a somewhat battered, cranky craft he had. For a while he was too occupied with controls, instruments, hiss and shudder around him, to heed much else. He did see how the saucer squatted imperturbable in the bright late sunlight. Tawny mud-brick walls, red canyon sides, deep blue sky, green meadows and cornfields, green cottonwoods and willows along the quicksilver stream, dusty sage and juniper farther back—and in the middle, a spaceship from the stars!
His landing gear touched. He cut the power. Silence hit him like a thunderclap. He unharnessed, opened the door, and sprang shakily forth. The air was thin, dry, pungent with resinous odors. Except for a breeze, tinkle of water, bleating from a pasture shared by sheep and goats, the silence continued.
It was not broken by the approaching locals. They were ordinary Pueblo types, a few hundred medium-sized dark-complexioned folk of every apparent age. Men and women both wore their hair in braids. Clothing varied, from more or less traditional breechcloths, gowns, and blankets, to levis and sport shirts. Lindquist's sharpened perceptions noted that the people were better clad, seemed more healthy and prosperous, than the average Southwest Indian. And they were strangely uncordial. Not that they threatened him. But they drew up in a kind of phalanx, and stared, and said never a word. Even the littlest children sucked their thumbs in a marked manner.
The human pilot lands and walks up to the aliens and says, to the effect of, "Ah ha, I knew it!" Alien, with disappointment on his or her face, turns to the pilot and says "Okay, well, since you found us — welcome to the Galactic Empire."
His eyes rolled. He gasped. Urgo bawled, "Oh, no!" and Pazilliwheep looked ill.
Other humans emerged. So did a television camera on a dolly. "We alerted the news services," Lindquist said happily. "Of course they thought this was a lunatic-fringe project, but they did agree to stand by, in case we came up with anything good for laughs. Smile, you're on candid camera. Now we better break the news gently to my assistants, though you aren't quite the godlike beings most of them think you are." He stopped, blushed through his stubble, and beckoned to a companion. "Pardon me. I was so excited I forgot. Here's Professor Rostovtsev from Colorado U. He speaks Hopi."
Klak't'klak had already adjusted his machine to English. He turned it off for a minute, while he expressed himself in his own tongue. Then he closed the circuit again.
"Never mind," he said resignedly. "Welcome to the Galactic Federation."
Point was that the aliens felt that only the Native Americans, not all of humanity, were worthy of being members of the Galactic Empire.
"Right. The 143ans who do know about us and do have membership are friendly, dignified, unaggressive, mind-their-own-business people who'll work for us when we need help at an honest wage for honest labor, and who produce salable handicrafts. Do you wonder that we hide our existence from everyone else?"
(To the Galactics, our world is "Restocking Station 143.")