Olivia Oatman; History Fun Fact Vol. 36

Olivia Oatman; History Fun Fact Vol. 36
July 08
16:07 2018

Olivia Oatman; First (White) Woman To Be Tattooed In the US:

Oliva Oatman, was the first white woman in North America, is to tattooed. This may sound pretty awesome and like she was a pioneer of her time. But the story is a bit more complicated than that. On a trip west, from the east coast of the US (duh). Olivia’s entire family was killed and she was then adopted, and raised, by Mohave Indians. Like any respectable young Victorian era lady, Olivia had no tattoos at all.

But it was already, and had been for a very long time, a common part of Mohave and native american culture, for women to be tattooed. As we have talked about previously in this series. Even though it had been driven underground in the west, in the America’s especially, tattoo culture was thriving in its tribal incarnation.

So through her misfortune of losing her family, and her then fortune of growing up with the Mohave Indians. Olivia adopted their cultural norms and values. In actuality she was held captive by the Mohave Indians, as she was raised by them. But this also meant, that by the time she was ransomed back to her own people. The Mohave had given her a blue tattoo on her chin.

Final Comment:

Olivia Oatman didn’t get her first and only tattoo, through any means that mots women today would wish to get it.
But her unfortunate circumstances, still meant that she has now gone down in history, as the first white woman in North America, to ever be tattooed. Funny how things turn out.

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About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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