Ask the Marshall True or Hollywood: Indians cut themselves and pressed the wounds together to become “blood brothers?”

Robert Garcia
Phoenix, Arizona

True. The blood ritual has been around for centuries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It comes in many forms, but the one you’re asking about is a bonding between friends or even adversaries. It usually entails the cutting of fingers, palms or wrists and pressing them together. Sometimes the ceremony includes  drinking the other person’s blood. With people knowing these days that diseases can spread through blood, the mixing of blood in such ceremonies can have dire consequences.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at