Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Reprise: The Woman with the Blue Tattoo

Olive Oatman, Library of Congress

Olive Oatman became famous in the 1850s for the blue perpendicular lines tattooed onto her chin. She called them “slave marks,” and people all across America wanted to know how and why she had acquired them.

On the afternoon of February 18, 1851, while camped along the Gila River in Arizona, Olive and her younger sister, Mary Ann, watched in horror as a band of Western Yavapai Indians massacred their mother, father, two sisters, and three brothers. Held back as captives, the two girls, fourteen and seven, were forced to walk barefoot through the rugged desert to the isolated Yavapai camp. For a year they lived there as slaves, fetching wood, hauling water, and gathering food, until traded to the Mohave tribe for two horses, three blankets, vegetables, and beads.

The Mohaves (Aha Macav, “along the river,”) inhabited a lush, fertile valley along the banks of the Colorado River, the traditional boundary between Arizona and California.

Chief Espaniole and his wife, Aespaneo, welcomed the girls into the tribe and adopted them into their own family. They were proud to have rescued the girls from the cruel Yavapai and vowed to treat them well.

The girls worked alongside the other women of the tribe, gathering wood, fetching water, and planting seeds. They soon learned the Mohave language and developed close friendships with other members of the tribe.

Olive was variously called “Ali,” “Aliutman,” “Olivino,” and “Owich (cloud),” the clan name of Chief Espaniole’s family. Mohave women inherited clan names passed down from their fathers, and bearing a clan name meant Olive was considered a full member of the tribe.

Facial tattoos were common among the Mohave Indians because they believed the permanent marks guaranteed a place in “Sil’aid,” the land of the dead. Tribal members who died without tattoos would spend eternity in a desert rat hole. Since Olive and Mary Ann belonged to the tribe, they were expected to undergo the tattooing process.

The girls lay quietly on the ground while experienced tattooers drew designs on their chins. Since the tattoos were meant to be decorative, they chose designs that would enhance the girls’ faces. Using cactus needles or sharp sticks, the designs were pricked into the skin until the wounds freely bled. The sticks were dipped in the juice of a special river weed, then into a powder made from a blue river stone, and applied to the pinpricks on the girls’ chins. The process took several hours to complete and several days to heal.

With this rite of passage, Olive and Mary Ann became permanent members of the Mohave tribe and the first white females in the United States to wear tattoos.

A terrible drought in 1855 brought famine to the tribe. Many people died, including Mary Ann. Olive soon fell ill herself. Aespaneo saved her life by feeding her gruel made from cornmeal.

In January 1856, a Yuma Indian named Francisco arrived at the Mohave camp with papers from Fort Yuma ordering the release of Olive Oatman. Chief Espaniole refused to release her. But Francisco persisted, claiming that five million white soldiers were hiding in the hills, ready to attack and destroy the Mohave village. The Mohaves reluctantly gave in.

Once again, Olive was traded for two horses, blankets, and beads. She arrived at Fort Yuma ten days later, tanned, tattooed, painted, her hair dyed black, and wearing only a bark skirt. She was nineteen years old. Her brother Lorenzo, who had survived the massacre, traveled from California for a tender reunion with his long-lost sister.

Olive became an overnight sensation. Newspapers all across America printed stories about “the white Indian” and her blue tattoo. The Evansville Enquirer reported on November 9, 1859: “She will bear the marks of her captivity to her grave. Her savage masters having tattooed her after the customs of their tribes.”

In 1857 Royal B. Stratton published the first book detailing the Oatman ordeal, Life Among the Indians, which became an immediate best-seller. Olive and Lorenzo traveled to New York, where Olive promoted the book with autographed photographs and lectures. She openly displayed her tattoo while relaying the tragic story of the Oatman massacre and her life as a “slave” among the Mohave Indians.

When not delivering lectures, Olive self-consciously covered her chin with her hands to avoid the staring eyes of curious people.

Olive married wealthy cattleman John Brant Fairchild in 1865, left the lecture circuit, and eventually settled down in Sherman, Texas. She became reclusive, hid her face behind a black veil, experimented with make-up to hide her blue tattoo, and refused to discuss her life among the Indians. She died of heart failure in 1903. Afraid the Mohaves would claim her body, John Fairchild had her coffin sealed in iron and covered her grave with a thick granite tombstone.

(Mohave Indian woman with body paint and tattoos.)

Dawn Pisturino

October 17, 2012; November 25, 2021

Copyright 2012-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

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The Democratic Party – The Biggest Threat to America

I laughed my head off when I saw the sign in Golden Valley, Arizona that reads, “Sedition is not Patriotism,” erected by the Mohave County Democratic Central Committee.

For the last five years, the Democratic Party in Washington, D.C. and around the country has engaged in sedition, subversive activities, and domestic terrorism, from spying on the Trump campaign, to paying the Russians to create a fake dossier, to the whole Russia Hoax propagated by the Democrats and perpetuated by the liberal media, to the fraudulent impeachments, to the continued harassment and persecution of President Trump and his family, to the condoned violence by Antifa and BLM. The Democratic Party elites routinely lie, cheat, undermine and abuse the U.S. Constitution, spread hatred and racial division across the country, undermine the strength and prosperity of America, subvert our children’s success in school, and corrupt and destroy everything they touch.

From my perspective, the Democratic Party is the biggest threat to America and American democracy.

Dawn Pisturino

(Registered Independent)

July 31, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

(Mailed to the Democratic Party, the GOP, and various newspapers.)

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner (The Miner) on August 5, 2021 and August 22, 2021.

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The Hoover Dam – What if it Broke?

hoover_dam_1

The Hoover Dam – What if it Broke?

I.

At any given time, Lake Mead – which is held back by the Hoover Dam — can supply water to 29 million households in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Turbines and generators at Hoover Dam turn water energy into electrical energy. A failure at Hoover Dam would cut off both water and power to all of these seven states, and especially, to all the communities located in the Colorado River Basin.

A breach in the Hoover Dam wall would cause 10 trillion gallons of water from Lake Mead to form a tsunami wave that would travel down the Colorado River, destroying Davis Dam, Parker Dam, and several bridges, and wiping out Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu. Communities located on the Colorado River would be flooded.

There would be an immediate loss of hydroelectric power, irrigation water, and drinking water that millions of people in all seven states depend on. The economic losses would be devastating.

Bullhead City, Arizona is one of the cities located on the Colorado River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would immediately notify Bullhead City and Mohave County [in Arizona] of the impending catastrophe. The Mohave County Disaster Plan for uncontrolled releases from dams would be activated, involving the Mohave County Department of Risk and Emergency Management and multiple other departments in Bullhead City and Mohave County. The Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona State Parks Department, and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area [in Nevada] would also be involved.

It would require expert and efficient coordination and excellent communication capabilities to evacuate 30,000 people (the ones in Bullhead City, Arizona living closest to the river) in 90 minutes, before the water held back by Hoover Dam and then Davis Dam, hit Bullhead City. In spite of all evacuation plans to move people to Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona, people would greet the news of a Hoover Dam failure with disbelief and then panic. Highway 95 is the only main route through Bullhead City. It would be jammed with traffic. People on higher ground might be safe from flooding, but they would be trapped by lack of alternate roads out of the city. Law enforcement would be essential to keeping the traffic moving.

It is my estimate that if 10,000 people managed to get out of town in 90 minutes, 10,000 residents would be trapped on higher ground, and 20,000 fatalities would result from drowning and injuries. Thirty miles of Highway 95 would be flooded by water. At least 16,000 homes and businesses would be flooded or destroyed. The local hospital, which sits on a hill, could only be accessed by helicopter. The sewer systems would be flooded, contaminating the environment. Remaining residents would be without power and water. They would have to walk through the hills to highway 68 or be flown out by helicopter. The American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations would have to set up emergency shelters in Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona within two hours to help the survivors.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors would ask the Governor of Arizona to declare an emergency situation. He, in turn, would ask the President of the United States to declare Bullhead City [and all other cities along the Colorado River] a disaster area. Bullhead City and Mohave County would be overwhelmed. FEMA would be mobilized.

II.

If an unknown terrorist group launched a nuclear device at Hoover Dam and caused a rupture in the concrete wall, the scenario would be the same as described above. In addition to physical and environmental damage and loss of human life, the air and water would be contaminated with radiation and debris. The 10,000 people who managed to stay behind on dry land would have to be rescued and evacuated over 24 hours due to exposure to radiation.

Emergency shelters would need to be set up within two hours by the American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations in Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona to supply food, water, and other basic needs to survivors. But over the next day, wind currents would bring the radiation over the mountains and into Golden Valley and Kingman. Local law enforcement would pass out gas masks and be on patrol to control panic, looting, and general disorder while State and County emergency workers evacuated the area.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors would ask the Governor of Arizona to declare an emergency situation. He, in turn, would ask the President of the United States to declare the area a disaster zone. FEMA would be mobilized to the area.

Conclusion: When President Trump talks about our deteriorating infrastructure, We the People need to take it more seriously. There are a number of dams across the country which need much-needed repairs and reinforcement. Waiting for a disaster to occur is unacceptable. When he talks about preventing terrorists from entering the country, he knows what he’s talking about. Our deteriorating infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

Dawn Pisturino

September 2019 and April 23, 2020

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Contact author for sources.

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