Squanto helped. Thankfully.


Oh sure.  We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving.  It runs a little bit like this.  A bunch of English folks, on a boat…  seeking religious freedom… bump into a big rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Ahhhh.  Plymouth and the Pilgrims.  The story continues…. with the said Pilgrims… finding a land of plenty.  Low and Behold.  They were greeted by a friendly Indian named Squanto, who taught them how to plant corn.

Not even close to the true story.  The real story is about our boy Squanto — also known as Tisquantum.

You see.  We American people have become really comfortable with the story of happy Pilgrims and friendly Indians.  But c’mon.  Really?

Here is a bit of what truly happened back then.  Keep eating your turkey and stuffing… this will take a while.

In 1614…. roughly about six years before the Pilgrims landed in on the upper east coast…. an English guy named Thomas Hunt kidnapped Tisquantum from his village of Patuxet.  It was all a part of a group of villages known as the Wampanoag confederation.

(Europeans had started visiting the northeast of what is now the United States by the 1520s, and probably as early as the 1480s.)  So already we have a “disconnect” in our fond memories of history.  Most people think Columbus found it all… and then nothing else happened here until 1620.  Not so much.

Anyway. Back to “Squanto.”  This villianous guy Hunt took Tisquantum and around two dozen other kidnapped Wampanoag to Spain, where he tried to sell them into slavery.

Tisquantum escaped slavery — with the help of Catholic friars.  He must have been pretty resourceful, because he then somehow found his way to England. He all the while, had learned pretty good English.

Tisquantum  finally made it back to what is now Massachusetts in 1619.  During the time he was gone… an epidemic had swept across New England. French Sailors brought the disease.  It wiped out a huge percentage of the population in coastal New England.   When Tisquantum returned to Patuxet, he found that he was the village’s only survivor.

Enter the Pilgrims, stage left.   They had shown up in New England a few weeks before winter.  (Footnote.  Before THIS band of Pilgrims, others had come.  The Indians would trade with them, and then sent them on their way.  Sometimes with emphasis.)

So now… with the wiped out population… Patuxet ultimately becomes Plymouth.  The 1620-Variety-Pilgrims found this nice patch of cleared land… and Indian bones.  They deemed it Divine Providence. Dead Indians, Cleared Land… “Our New Home.”

Back to the Indian side of this.  Another Indian leader, named Massasoit didn’t like  Tisquantum… so he kept him under house arrest until the Pilgrims showed up.

Massasoit had an idea to trade with the new Pilgrims… who were starving to death…., and he sends Tisquantum to do his bidding.  The Pilgrims liked Tisquantum, and when Massasoit demanded they return him to captivity … the Pilgrims said no.   Tisquantum stayed in the colony with them-there-Pilgrims, helping them prepare for the next winter.

Skip a few seasons ahead to the next fall.  Massasoit came back with 90 armed Indians.  The Pilgrim militia responded by marching around and firing their guns in the air.

It was quickly resolved and both sides sat down, ate a lot of food and complained about other rivals.  So there you have it.

Our very first Happy Thanksgiving.

And what about that band of Pirates who kidnapped Tisquantum in the first place?  They ended up retiring…growing corn…. and selling it for a “buck an ear.”

Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.
– Zig Ziglar
There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
– Ralph H. Blum

With arms outstretched I thank.
With heart beating gratefully I love.
With body in health I jump for joy.
With spirit full I live.
~Terri Guillemets