Page:The History of the American Indians.djvu/149
Their reafon for difujing circumcifiQrt.
1750, -when the Cheerakee were on the point of commencing a war againft us, feveral companies of the northern Indians, in concert with them, com pelled me in the low^r Cheerakee town to write to the government of South- Carolina, that they made it their earned reqiieft to the Englifli not to me diate in their war with the Katahba Indians, as they were fully refolved to profecute it, with the greateft eagernefs, while there was one of that hate ful name alive ; becaufe in the time of battle, they had given them the ugly name of fhort-tailed eunuchs. Now as an eunuch was a contemptible name with the Ifraelites, and none of them could ferve in any religious office ; it mould feem that the Indians derived this opprobious and fmgular epithet from Jewifh tradition, as caftration was never in ufe among the ancient or prefent Americans. __
The Ifraelites were but forty years in the wildernefs, and would not have renewed the painful act of circumcifion, only that Jofhua inforced it : and by the neceffary fatigues and difficulties, to which as already hinted, the primitive Americans muft be expofed at their firft arrival in this wafte and extenfive wildernefs, it is likely they forbore circumcifion* upon the divine principle extended to their fuppofed predeceflbrs in the wildernefs, of not accepting facrifice at the expence of mercy. This might foothe them after wards wholly to reject it as a needlefs duty, efpecially if any of the eaftern heathens accompanied them in their travels in queft of freedom. And as it is probable, that by the time they reached America, they had worn out their knives and every other fharp inftrument fit for the occafion ; fo had they performed the operation with flint-ftones, or fharp fplinters, there is no doubt that each of the mothers would have likewife faid, " This day, thou* 1 art to me a bloody hufband *." However, from the contemptible idea the- Americans fix to caftration, &c. it feems very probable the more religious among them ufed. circumcifion in former ages..
Under this argument, I muft obferve that Ai-u-be fignifies " the thigh" of any animal , and E-ee-fattdb Tekale, " the lower part of the thigh," or literally, " the hanging of the foot." And when in the woods, the In dians cut a fmall piece out of the lower part of the thighs of the deer they kill, length-ways and pretty deep. Among the great number of venilbn-hams they bring to our trading houfes, I do not remember to
- ' Exod. iv. 25, 26,