“Don`t Worry, He Won`t Get Far On Foot”: Life On An Indian Reservation


The above cartoon is by the late quadriplegic cartoonist, John Callahan, who died in 2010 at the age of 59. He made “Don`t Worry, He Won`t Get Far On Foot” the title of his autobiography.

Via Kathy Shaidle, I see that this drama was played out in real life on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.

Rick Gilmore, 49, who is in a wheelchair, and presumably living on a pension, was abandoned by the roadside by “a couple in a white truck whom he met while he was hitchhiking”, undescribed racially, but presumably also Indians. He had to crawl on his arms for two days through the desert.

He tried to flag down passing cars (also driven by Indians) but they didn`t stop, just honked and drove on. In their defense, I`ll point out that if you see a man crawling by the side of the road, especially on an Indian Reservation, you assume he`s drunk, not paraplegic. Finally, he was rescued by 73-year old sheep farmer Wilfred Sisco (also an Indian.)

“Gilmore said he was dropped in the desert by a couple in a white truck whom he met while he was hitchhiking. He had invited them to his home for steaks and they later went for what Gilmore thought was going to be a joyride.

When he declined to share his alcohol with them, Gilmore said the man grabbed him by his feet and threw him out of the truck while parked along the desolate road.

It was early evening and Gilmore had nothing – no wheelchair, no food, no water, no coat – to help him endure the flat desert scrubland.

“It was dark and I was shivering and the wind was blowing so I just crawled to a bush and dug in right there. It was cold that night,” he said.

With the sunrise, survival mode kicked in.

“I started dragging myself. I did the same thing all day and I only got about two miles,” he said.

Two people passed by. Mr Gilmore tried flagging them down but they only honked and kept going.

After spending a second night at the side of the road, Mr Gilmore said he woke up sore and thirsty and didn`t want to move.

“I could have easily gave up and said forget it, but I said I`m not going to freeze out here and I just kept on going,” said Mr Gilmore, who lives by himself and lost the use of his legs in a car crash years ago.”

[Paraplegic man drags himself four miles across the desert | A paraplegic man dragged himself across the New Mexico desert for three days after becoming stranded without his wheelchair., UK Telegraph, October 24, 2012]

The title of Kathy Shaidle`s post is “This kind of heartlessness & evilness happens on the Sioux/Cheyenne Rez a lot’” which comes from a commenter on the HotAir site that linked to the Telegraph story—”The real story is always in the comments,” she says.