Peculiar Histories: "The Girl with the Blue Tattoo"
Olive Oatman was a 13 year old Mormon pioneer heading west when a group of Yavapai Indians ambushed her group, killed her family and took her and her sister as slaves. She was eventually traded to a tribe of Mohave, where she was thought of as family. They gave her a face tattoo and raised her as one of their own. On today's Peculiar Histories episode, we explore the details of her 5 years spent living with Native Americans. Of her time in with the Mohave, she spoke lovingly and with adoration. They took care of her needs and allowed her to fully integrate. After a couple of years, she was traded back to white society. We discuss the rough transition she experienced, as she was visibly marked by another culture. By many, she was viewed as an outsider, resulting in a clash of cultures. Having been abducted at such a young age and forced to adapt to a new life, Olive no doubt went through serious psychological strain when she re-entered white society. The sensational story of her kidnapping and life among Native Americans struck a chord with the American public. Olive left behind a lasting and impactful cultural legacy. She is the first documented white American woman to bear a tattoo. She also is the namesake of the town Oatman, Arizona. Numerous works in literature, film, and television have used Olive Oatman's story as an inspiration. Her life as a cultural hybrid still resonates with historians, academics, and audiences today.