Squanto played an essential role in early American history, but it wasn’t by his choice. He grew up as a member of the Patuxet Native Indian tribe, learning to hunt with a bow and arrow and studying the culture of his people. He was kidnapped and taken to England, and scholars debate whether the intention was to sell him as a slave. Squanto learned English and acted as a teacher and interpreter for the English.
When the European explorers were covering the various areas of the New World, they explored with little or no respect for the Native Indians. Many were in search of gold, and when they couldn’t find gold, they kidnapped the natives to sell them into slavery.
Captain George Weymouth was one of the explorers, and he and his men captured Squanto. They took him to England, where he lived, eventually getting a job as a scout for Captain John Smith and as an interpreter.
In 1614, Smith was returning to the settlement to explore what is today’s Massachusetts, and he took Squanto with him on the trip.
After John Smith returned to English, he left a man named Thomas Hunt in charge. It’s believed that Hunt tricked Squanto and several Native Indians to come aboard his ship, and he kidnapped Squanto again. He hoped to sell them to Spain as slaves.
Squanto was rescued by priests in Spain, and he eventually found a way to England.
It took a few years, but Squanto was again on a ship sailed by John Smith and again heading back to Massachusetts.
Where did they live?
When he arrived home, his tribe was gone, and his village deserted due to the smallpox outbreak that was brought by the English. Squanto then lived with a different tribe.
Squanto became the interpreter for the Wampanoag, the Massasoit chief. This put Squanto in a lead position between the pilgrims that were building the Plymouth Colony and the Native Indian tribes.
Squanto was a key player in helping to establish a treaty between Wampanoag and the settlers. His interpretation skills, combined with his natural kindness and negotiating talents, helped to keep the peace between all of the inhabitants.
During his time visiting the pilgrims, he recognized that they didn’t know how to survive in their new environment. Squanto taught the pilgrims how to plant crops, eat wild plants, Hunt, and catch fish. Squanto even taught the settlers to bury dead fish as fertilizer for their crops. In other words, without Squanto, the settlement would never have made it.
Squanto was the leading intermediary between the English settlers and the Native tribes, and scholars believe that he might have told lies to both sides. His abuse of power caused Wampanoag to lose trust in him.
By 1622, Squanto was not trusted, even though he had held a good standing for so long. In 1622, he got a fever and nose bleed and died within a few days. It’s unsure what the cause of death was, but it’s thought that Wampanoag may have poisoned him.
What did you learn?
How did Squanto end up in England as a young man?
he was kidnapped
When in England, what jobs did Squanto have?
interpreter and teacher
What famous English settler and sea captain brought Squanto back to Massachusetts?
Captain John Smith
What did Thomas Hunt do to Squanto to kidnap him a second time?
Lured him onto his ship
Who saved Squanto in Spain from being sold into slavery?
After his final return to Massachusetts, what role did Squanto play?
interpreter between the English and Native Indian tribes