Squanto was a famous Native American Indian who was a member of the Pawtuxet band of the Wampanoag tribe. He was born in Cape Cod around the year 1580, a time
when his tribe was the most influential tribe in an area where the English would first settle. The reason why there is some controversy surrounding Squanto is because
although he undoubtedly aided the colonists, he was thought by many to have used his power and position among the Indians to his advantage. Read on to find out what
happened when he was kidnapped as well as many other interesting facts and information about his life.
Squanto's birth name is Tisquantum and he has also been referred to as Squantum throughout history.
Because of being kidnapped several times in his life, Squanto traveled extensively through Europe, Newfoundland and the northeast coast of the United States.
In an expedition sponsored by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, an English explorer named Captain Weymouth kidnapped Squanto along with 4 other Indians. In 1605, he returned
to England with the Indians, thinking Sir Ferdinando Gorges would appreciate the opportunity to see natives from the region in person.
It is believed that all of the Indians kidnapped by Weymouth were treated well in England before they were all eventually returned to their homeland. It is also
believed that they were taught English in hopes that they would provide information to help the English settlers.
In 1614 Squanto was captured by English explorer, Thomas Hunt. He captured 20 Indians in total and sold them off as slaves in Spain.
Spanish friars, looking to spread the Christian faith, rescued Squanto from captivity. He then traveled from Spain to England where he met and lived with John Slaney, a wealthy merchant.
As a likely indentured servant for John Slaney, Squanto traveled to Newfoundland on an expedition. Squanto thought he would be able to return home but ended up
returning to England again in 1618.
In 1619, Squanto finally makes it home only to discover that his tribe had been all but wiped out by disease.
Just over a year after his return home in 1619, Squanto settled in Plymouth with Pilgrims that were sick and dying from a difficult journey to the New World. They
lacked food and needed help. Squanto helped the Pilgrims during this difficult time. He taught them how to farm, introduced them to local tribes, and acted as an
interpreter to enable trade between the local tribes and Pilgrims.
In 1621, Squanto was instrumental in negotiating a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag by acting as an interpreter and mediator.
While helping the governor of Massachusetts, William Bradford, to gather information on the Wampanoag, he was captured and held by them.
Myles Standish, a Pilgrim with a military background, sent a group of settlers to find out what happened to him. When it was discovered that Squanto was alive, he
rejoined the Pilgrims and continued to assist them.
At one point Squanto was formally accused of spreading a rumor that the Indians planned to attack the English settlers. William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony saved him from punishment and acknowledged all of the good he had done and his role in helping the settlers survive.
He died of "Indian Fever" at the age of 42.
Squanto remains an important figure in the celebration of Thanksgiving.