When you’ve suffered through a traumatic experience, it’s hard to go back to being the person that you were before. That’s especially true when the traumatic events go on for years, rather than a single moment.
That was certainly the case for 19th-century woman Olive Oatman. Her entire family was killed… but what happened to her afterward was even stranger.
Olive Oatman was just a little girl in the 1800s when her entire Mormon family—save for herself and her younger sister—was assaulted and killed by Mojave Native Americans.
It was customary during that time for the Mojave tribe to adopt the women and children of the families that they killed. As such, Olive and her sister effectively became members of the tribe.
Tragically, during a harsh drought, Olive’s sister starved to death.
Without any ties left to her old life, Olive dedicated herself to her new family, allegedly even going so far as to getting married.
Olive even received the tribe’s traditional chin tattoo.
Several years later, she was found by European Americans and reintegrated into their society. It was a difficult transition, though, given her experiences; her tattoo; and the fact that, after so many years away, she could barely speak English.
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The character of Eva Toole on the television series Hell On Wheels, as portrayed by Robin McLeavy, is inspired by Olive Oatman.
It’s scary to think about what happened to Olive, but it’s a fascinating story. Could you imagine something like this happening to you as a child?
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