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Thanksgiving Minutiae: Tisquantum (a.k.a., Squanto)

27 November 2009

Squanto is of course chiefly credited with working with the Pilgrims after their first disastrous winter, teaching them agriculture and translating for them.  Without Squanto, there would have not been that first thanksgiving. 

I did not know very much about this man until lately however: 

– Squanto learned English while he was in England.

– He was in England three times – the fist time when he was taken captive by George Weymouth;  and the second time when he was freed from slavery by Spanish Monks.  The last time, he was trying to get back to New England from Newfoundland, and the easiest way was to return to England (?).

– He was taken captive twice – the first time by George Weymouth, and the second time by Thomas Hunt, a lieutenant of John Smith, who sold him as a slave.

– His village was wiped out by a plague.

– After his adventures in England, Spain, and Newfoundland, he returned to the site of his former village, where the Pilgrims had, arguably providentially, settled. 

The rest is history.

Except .. it seems that after cultivating good relationships with the English settlers, he used his influence to attempt to intimidate the other Indians in his confederacy.  Everyone (English and Indian) was none too happy with him for that. 

Governor William Bradford writes of Squanto’s death:

Here [Manamoick Bay] Squanto fell ill of Indian fever, bleeding much at the nose, which the Indians take as a symptom of death, and within a few days he died. He begged the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishman’s God in heaven, and bequeathed several of his things to his English friends, as remembrances. His death was a great loss.

… Happy Thanksgiving!   🙂

– Elder

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