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The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

by Margot Mifflin Margot Mifflin
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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 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.  
Based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatman’s friends and relatives, The Blue Tattoo is 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 of Death Valley Days starring 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.
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803211483
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Series: Women in the West
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Margot Mifflin is an author, journalist, and professor who writes about women's history and the arts. The author of Bodies of Subversion and The Blue Tattoo, she has written for the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, salon.com, the Believer, the New Yorker, and many other publications.

Kaipo Schwab is an actor, director, and producer who has worked at the Roundabout, the Public Theater, Second Stage, Hartford Stage, and Cincinnati Playhouse. Kaipo's film and television credits include Anesthesia, The Royal Tenenbaums, Law & Order, Rescue Me, and Orange Is the New Black. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue: Emigrant Song
1. Quicksand
2. Indian Country
3. "How Little We Thought What Was Before Us"
4. A Year with the Yavapais
5. Lorenzo's Tale
6. Becoming Mohave
7. Deeper
8. "There Is a Happy Land, Far, Far Away"
9. Journey to Yuma
10. Hell's Outpost
11. Rewriting History in Gassburg, Oregon
12. Captive Audiences
13. "We Met as Friends, Giving the Left Hand in Friendship"
14. Olive Fairchild, Texan
Epilogue: Oatman's Literary Half-Life

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