attr. jacques le moyne / a daughter of the picts / c1585
Olive Oatman, 1858. She was the first tattooed white woman in the U.S. After her family was killed by Yavapais Indians, on a trip West in the eighteen-fifties, she was adopted and raised by Mohave Indians, who gave her a traditional tribal tattoo. When she was ransomed back, at age nineteen, she became a celebrity. Photograph courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson, 1927.
The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman
"the tattooed captive." It evidently became a popular myth told in circuses towards the end of the 18th century. Victims of kidnapping by the "redskins" offered "the notion that people of color could transform whites into people of color --- ethnically and decoratively, as a means of exploitation and degradation."
Nora Hildebrandt, the first American tattooed circus attraction, in the late eighteen-eighties. Like many early attractions, Hildebrandt claimed to have been forcibly tattooed by western Indians, following Olive Oatman’s example. She was tattooed in New York, by her common-law husband, Martin Hildebrandt, one of the first shop tattooists in the U.S.