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The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Women in the West) Hardcover – April 1, 2009
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From School Library Journal
This engaging biography examines the life of Olive Oatman, who was 13 years old when Indians attacked her Illinois Mormon family on its journey west; she was subsequently adopted and raised by the Mohave tribe. Mifflin (English, Lehman Coll., CUNY) tells Oatman's story, from the unorthodox religious convictions that led her family west, through her captivity and assimilation into Mohave culture, to her rescue and reassimilation. Mifflin engagingly describes Oatman's ordeal and theorizes about its impact on Oatman herself as well as on popular imagination. The author seeks to correct much of the myth that has sprung up around Oatman, owing partly to a biography written with Oatman's participation during her life. Mifflin takes the position that Oatman was almost fully assimilated into Mohave culture and resisted "rescue," and that her return to mainstream society was a cause of ambivalence, if not anxiety. Though Mifflin sometimes seems a bit eager to make this argument, her book adds nuance to Oatman's story and also humanizes the Mohave who adopted her. Recommended for general readers as well as students and scholars.—Julie Biando Edwards, Maureen & Mike Mansfield Lib., Univ. of Montana, Missoula
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Top customer reviews
For those that love biographies, this book, by this particular author, is a must.
If you wish to have insight on life as a girl in these times, yet also the insight on the ways of a few of the tribes in history, this book will give you a mix of both worlds. At first you are upset with what happened to her, but then you realize that there is beauty and tragedy within each circumstance.
Olive Oatman, a face of history....great book, thus far. Being a lady back then was hard in certain ways already, as life for any was, however to be in her shoes where you would be torn from one world, and thrown into another...then taken back with scars of the past- scars that everyone sees... who you are is a question to the rest of the world...and to yourself. As I said...great book.
Olive Oatman was a 14-year-old member of a Mormon splinter group. Her family was killed by Yavapai en route between Tucson and Yuma in 1851, and she and her younger sister were first enslaved by the Yavapai, then sold to the Mohave. The Mohave raised them as members of the tribe; her sister died, but Olive was returned to white society after five years with the two Indian tribes.
The author has practiced source criticism on the various accounts of Oatman's life, discounting distortions introduced to serve various political and social biases. The resulting narrative is a fascinatingly ambiguous story. Was Olive better off as an Indian or white woman? It's hard to tell, but clearly she had warm feelings for her former "captors" when she met one of them in later life. The sexual, social, and racial norms of the time are called into question by the story of her life.
As history goes, the book is an easy and compelling read -- I finished it in a couple of days. It's a thought-provoking contribution to the literature of white captives of American Indians.
Most recent customer reviews
That and Hell on Wheels, invigorated us to visit Oatman, AZ on Route 66 on our recent Grand Canyon trip and see the Olive Oatman Restaurant there.Read more
I HAD TO RETURN this book. It did not tell her story.Read more