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Tisquantum (better known as Squanto) (c. 1580s – November 1622) was a Patuxet Native American who assisted the Pilgrims after their first winter in the New World and was integral to their survival. The Patuxet tribe was a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy.
Tisquantum first came in contact with English explorers in 1605, when he and other Patuxet: Manida, Skidwarres/Skettawarroes, Nahanada/Dehanada, and Assacumet, were captured by the party of George Weymouth. Exploring present-day Maine, Weymouth thought to take indigenous people back to England to show his sponsor as proof of his work. He returned with the Patuxet and turned them over to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Tisquantum is believed to have been taught English to serve as a translator in New England. In 1612 he returned to North America with Captain John Smith, who after some service time released him to return to his village.
On his way back to the Patuxet in 1614, Tisquantum was kidnapped by another Englishman, Thomas Hunt. Hunt was one of John Smith's lieutenants. Hunt was planning to sell fish, corn, and captured natives in Málaga, Spain. There Hunt attempted to sell Tisquantum and a number of other Native Americans into slavery in Spain for £20 apiece.
Some local friars discovered what Hunt was attempting and took the remaining Native Americans – Tisquantum included – in order to instruct them in the Christian faith. Tisquantum convinced the friars to let him try to return home. He managed to get to London, where he lived with and worked for a few years with John Slany, a shipbuilder who apparently taught Tisquantum more English. Slany took Tisquantum with him when he sailed to Cuper's Cove, Newfoundland. To get to New England, Tisquantum tried to take part in an expedition to that part of the North American east coast. When that plan fell through, he returned to England in 1618.
At last in 1619 Tisquantum returned to his homeland, having joined an exploratory expedition along the New England coast. He soon discovered that the Patuxet, as well as a majority of coastal New England tribes (mostly Wampanoag and Massachusett), had been decimated the year before by an epidemic plague, possibly smallpox.
Native Americans had no natural immunity to European infectious diseases.
Tisquantum finally settled with Pilgrims at the site of his former village, which the English named Plymouth. He helped them recover from an extremely hard first winter by teaching them techniques to increase food production: by fertilizing crops. He also showed them the best places to catch fish and eels. He was critical to their survival.
In 1621, Squanto was the guide and translator for settlers Stephen Hopkins and Edward Winslow as they traveled upland on a diplomatic mission to the Wampanoag sachem, known today as Massasoit. In a subsequent mission for Governor William Bradford that summer, Squanto was captured by Wampanoag while gathering intelligence on the renegade sagamore, Corbitant, at the village of Nemasket (site of present-day Middleborough, Massachusetts.) Myles Standish led a 10-man team of settlers from Plymouth to rescue Squanto if he was alive or, if he had been killed, to avenge him. Squanto was found alive and well. He was welcomed back by the Pilgrims at Plymouth, where he continued in his vital role as assistant to the colony.
I just wish I had a better picture of Michael Horse in the role. It's not a matter of the Native Americans being slighted when it comes to thinking about Thanksgiving, just that 'Thanks' only lasted for six episodes and any pictures are rare....
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