The Blue Tattoo

The Blue Tattoo

The Life of Olive Oatman

Book - 2009
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Tells the harrowing story of this forgotten heroine of frontier America. Orphaned when her family was brutally killed by Yavapai Indians, Oatman lived as a slave to her captors for a year before being traded to the Mohave, who tattooed her face and raised her as their own. She was fully assimilated and perfectly happy when, at nineteen, she was ransomed back to white society.
Publisher: Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2009]
Copyright Date: ©2009
ISBN: 9780803211483
Branch Call Number: 979.104092 OA8M 2009
Characteristics: xi, 269 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Life of Olive Oatman


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Mar 07, 2019

A significant part of American history is the hopeful journey that so many settlers embarked on in the mid-1800s, headed west buoyed by the promise of such things as free land, gold, and visions of personal religious utopias. Never mind that this "free" land had long been populated by native tribes, who were understandably not too pleased to see these strange people coming to their lands and taking their resources. Olive Oatman and her family came west as part of a larger group headed west in 1851, bound for the promise of California. Faced with a series of misfortunes, eventually the Oatman family ended up on their own, only to be brutally massacred by members of the Yavapai tribe. Only 14, Olive and her younger sister were taken captive, eventually traded to the Mohaves, where they were essentially assimilated into the tribe. Five years later, her sister now deceased, Olive is "rescued," now facing the challenge of assimilating back into white culture as profiteers seek to benefit from her story. Well-researched, this work attempts to get to the truth of Olive's story while painting a fascinating picture of Native and American cultures of the time, and the power of manipulating story.

Jul 09, 2017

Jul 08, 2017
it was amazing

Captivity sounds like an old concept, something that happened in a time so far away that it doesn't seem possible. To capture someone and take them away to a culture and place that is so foreign that everything is new and unknown. Olive's story is one of acceptance and a determination to survive in an environment that is so totally strange to her, she learns to adapt in ways that will imprint on her soul and face in ways that when she is re assimilated into American culture she never totally becomes what she was. The tattoo on her chin is a mark that separates her from her old life and tries to stain her character. But she rises above this and learns to live a life in white culture that neither denies her captivity or her captors.

Jun 20, 2017

I think this author has shown every which way Olive Oatman could have felt during each of the radical changes of circumstances in her life in a way that seems almost impossible to know. He also gave, in vivid detail, how each of the tribes differ, humanizes them and lets us know they would feel and treat their captives.
To think that this was only around 150 years ago and look at the changes in this country makes it just absolutely amazing. The fact that we have lost the respect for nature and spiritual aspect of these cultures is our loss.

JCLEmilyD Mar 29, 2017

This is a very fascinating story of Olive Oatman who's family was massacred on their way west during the gold rush. Olive and her sister are spared death but remain captives to a local Indian tribe, they are later traded to a different tribe where Olive (her sister died during this time) remained nearly five years. The author works very hard to stream together that correct facts about Olive's life, a difficult task due to vast number of conflicting accounts. A fascinating and rather quick read for a biography.

Aug 10, 2015

Worth the read. Interesting book.


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