Barnie Botone (BB): I said, "Grandma, "I'm a locomotive engineer on the railroad."
And she said, "My great-grandfather.
His name was Guipago.
He was a chief.
And the government took him off in a livestock car... and now my grandson comes and tells me he's on the railroad."
She cried with a moan because the irony, it was too much to bear.
And that's when I told her that I would be the very best I possibly could be.
My first paid trip, I walked into the shanty.
And there's a roomful of white guys, and everybody's looking at me.
And I had long braids.
And this guy says to me, "Take a drink, Indian."
And he puts his jug right in my face.
And I thought, "Man, this ain't right."
I knew it was going to be hard, and I knew I'd be different, but I knew I could compete with any of 'em.
So I would work eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
I could handle long trains, short trains, fat trains, big trains.
And this is where I seen elk and bears... coyotes.
And when the snow comes, it's just beautiful.
There's nobody looking over your shoulder.
There's nobody there to be your boss.
But there was the dark side of the railroad.
And I remember I was working with this guy.
We called him Wickie.
He was tying a brake on, he didn't know there was a car down further in the track, and it ran in and cut off his legs.
Here this man's laying unconscious.
So right away, I got under the car with him.
And when I put the tourniquet on him, he woke up.
And he was suffering.
He said to me, "Do you think I'm going to die?"
And I said, "No.
You're not going to die."
Well, I coached him pretty good 'cause he made it.
But the very next day, I grab my hair like this and it just came out in my hands.
In a bundle.
It was the most horrendous thing that ever happened to me.
But I went back to work because you know, I grew up with a tough bunch.
Whenever we got bucked off a horse, you'd have to get back on.
That's the people I come from.
And that's not something that is insignificant... especially in these days.