The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-04-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr
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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 Tattootells the harrowing story of this forgotten heroine of frontier America. Orphaned when her family was brutally killed by Yavapais 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. Based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatman's friends and relatives,The Blue Tattoois the first book to examine her life from her childhood in Illinois-including the massacre, her captivity, and her return to white society-to her later years as a wealthy banker's wife in Texas. Oatman's story has since become legend, inspiring artworks, fiction, film, radio plays, and even an episode ofDeath Valley Daysstarring Ronald Reagan. Its themes, from the perils of religious utopianism to the permeable border between civilization and savagery, are deeply rooted in the American psyche. Oatman's blue tattoo was a cultural symbol that evoked both the imprint of her Mohave past and the lingering scars of westward expansion. It also served as a reminder of her deepest secret, fully explored here for the first time: she never wanted to go home.

Author Biography

Margot Mifflin is an assistant professor in the English Department of Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and directs the Arts and Culture program at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. viii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologue: Emigrant Songp. 1
Quicksandp. 9
Indian Countryp. 17
"How Little We Thought What Was Before Us"p. 22
A Year with the Yavapaisp. 44
Lorenzo's Talep. 53
Becoming Mohavep. 64
Deeperp. 82
"There Is a Happy Land, Far, Far Away"p. 92
Journey to Yumap. 100
Hell's Outpostp. 109
Rewriting History in Gassburg, Oregonp. 126
Captive Audiencesp. 146
"We Met as Friends, Giving the Left Hand in Friendship"p. 173
Olive Fairchild, Texanp. 182
Epilogue: Oatman's Literary Half-Lifep. 198
Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 231
Indexp. 247
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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