From the Western Methodist.
ORIGIN OF THE CHEROKEES.
Messrs. Editors.- The curious and inquisitive have long since manifested anxiety to know, from which of Noah's sons, the aborigines of North America have their origin. I feel well convinced, that of this, we shall never be informed certainly; unless He who made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the earth shall condescend to make us a special revelation on the subject.
It is however, allowable I believe, to offer some speculations, built upon hypotheses, and plain matter of fact. On the latter I rely principally, I support of the notions which I shall here advance.
To me at least it is probable that the Indians (as they are commonly called) are the descendants of Shem of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. Permit me to remark here, that I write directly in reference to the Cherokee tribe, among whom I labored as a missionary one year, and from whom I learned the circumstances and traditions detailed below, which go strongly to support the above supposition. They once had a city of refuge, the site of which could be pointed out-perhaps adjacent, or immediately on the line which divides Tennessee State from North Carolina. It was called, and is yet known by the name Echota,- ' the beloved,' 'the holy city.'
On this consecrated spot, human blood was not to be shed. It afforded not only protection to transgressors of their own tribe, but prisoners of war were safe if ever they placed their feet on the sacred ground and continued there. 'These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them; 'c. Numbers, 35th c. 15th v.' The seat of their general council house, after the formation of a written constitution and laws; was called in tenderized recollections of the old New Echota [pronounced E-tsho-tah.]
It is not infrequently the case, in passing through gaps of the mountains, the traveller discovers large heaps of stones; weighing, perhaps from one to five pounds. The Indian tradition of this is, that in times past, when they started on a war, or hunting, and ascended those mountains which overlooked their towns or homes, they would all pray to the Great Spirit, promising if he would keep them, and make their enterprise prosperous and bring them again in safety in that place, that again they would pray unto him and as a covenant, each would take up a stone and cast them in a heap; see Genesis 28th c. 13, and 31, 45, 46. You will doubtless be enabled to discover a very striking similarity between the circumstances related, and the scripture occurrences and facts referred to.
But, after all, some would still object to my supposition,by inquiring how could any of the Israelites ever have reached these shores. To such I would reply, we have every necessary assurance that in the reign of Solomon, they learned to some degree of perfection the art of navigation, one which no doubt they improved until the dispersion of the Ten tribes: when perhaps numbers of them scorning to be subjected to a foreign yoke, embarked, determined to seek and colonize some more peaceful clime. Guarded by divine providence, they ultimately reached this vast continent,- explored its coast, visited its interior, gave it a thin population, in process of time lost the knowledge, in a great degree of God and their duty, of the arts and sciences; and thus became the wandering savages.
A short account of their religion, laws, and customs, will furnish matter for a second communication.
Lebanon, Jan. 3d. 1834.
[Boudinott, the first President of the American Bible Society, in his 'Star of the West' has traced many coincidences between the customs of the American Indians, and the Israelites.] Ed. Obs.