The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

I’ve been watching AMC’s Hell on Wheels and it’s prompted me to read more about that time in history. I’m from a town that was established because of the rail road, and, the town I live in now was also a rail road stop. Here’s one of the inspirations for the TV show.

In 1851 Olive Oatman was a thirteen-year old pioneer traveling west toward Zion, with her Mormon family. Within a decade, she was a white Indian with a chin tattoo, caught between cultures. The Blue Tattoo 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. She became an instant celebrity, but the price of fame was high and the pain of her ruptured childhood lasted a lifetime.

Source: The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Women in the West): Margot Mifflin: 9780803235175: Books

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