Tatooed Olive

Sometime in the 1850’s, the Oatman family was ambushed by Yavapais Indians on a trip out West. Most family members were killed, but Olive Oatman and her younger sister were taken captive. She was fourteen at the time. Later the Yavapais sold her to Mohave Indians, who then adopted and raised her. They also gave her traditional tribal tattoos, which marked as a member of the tribe and a clan name: Oach. After five years she returned to American society and went on to be a celebrity, mostly due to her tattoos. What really happened during those five years she was held captive will never be known.

Photograph © Arizona Historical Society, Tucson

More tattooed ladies?
Check: Maud Stevens Wagner