Skip to main content
Updated date:

Squanto, Friend and Savior of the Pilgrims

Pilgrims Thanksgiving

Pilgrims Thanksgiving

Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims

Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims


The Story of The Young Squanto

The story of the young Squanto, of the Patuxet tribe of the northeast coast of America, had to be harrowing for him. No record exists of his birth year or his parents, but it is thought he was born about 1580 and given the name Tisquantum, better known as Squanto. His village was at the place today called Plymouth, Massachusettes. The Pilgrims were not the first Europeans as traders had been among the Indians for years trading for furs. At times, the traders captured the Indians, taking them to Bermuda and the West Indies and selling them into slavery.

Indeed, it made the Indians untrusting of the Europeans. Squanto was first captured in 1605 by Captain George Weymouth, who worked for Sir Gorges of England on the ship Archangel. Squanto was taken to England but before long returned to America. In 1614, Squanto was again captured by Captain Thomas Hunt, a treacherous slave trader. He was taken to Malaga, Spain, and then to Gibraltar, where he was sold for 22 pounds. Catholic monks purchased Squanto. Here he would be for the next five tears learning English and Catholicism, working as a stable boy. Still, he was away from his homeland and people. Eventually, Squanto was smuggled on a ship headed to England. The vessel belonged to shipbuilder John Slany. Squanto worked with Slany for a few years and then sailed to Newfoundland.

Exploring the land, Squanto was again captured by Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe. Miles Standish heard of his capture and set off with ten Pilgrims to free Squanto. Because of Squanto's skill in interpreting and planting skills, they desperately needed him.

Squanto had shown the Pilgrims how to plant and harvest crops such as corn and squash. He showed them the secret of fertilizing with fish heads and how to catch fish and shell food. They did manage to rescue Squanto and invited the chief to dinner to celebrate their goodwill. The chief showed up with 90 of his warriors. Today, that celebration is what we call Thanksgiving. Because of Squanto, the Pilgrims survived the brutal winter.

N the other hand, Squanto could be devious and manipulative. He used his status with the Pilgrims against other Indians. He told them the Pilgrims buried a plague under their house, and he could make them release it if they didn't do as he said. Over-stepping himself one day, he falsely accused Chief Massasoit of plotting with enemy tribes to attack the Pilgrims. The chief heard about this and demanded Squanto be turned over to him. Fortunately, William Bradford refused to do so, knowing it would be a death sentence. Later, Bradford and Squanto left on an exploring trip to Chatham, Massachusettes, when Squanto took ill. Bradford stayed by his side until the end. As he lay dying, Squanto asked Bradford to pray for him to go to the English God in heaven. Bradford lost a good friend and was quoted as saying, "Squanto played his own game."

Squanto died in 1622 and was buried in an unmarked grave and unknown the site to this day. No monuments are honoring Squanto, but a small plaque on a stone on the Nickerson Family property as a gift from the Chatham Historical Society erected 1955. William Bradford (1590-1657) is buried with other Pilgrims in Burial Hill Cemetery, Plymouth, Massachusettes.

It seems Squanto had a tough life but loved by the Pilgrims, who built Plymouth over his home village. So, in the end, Squanto was home.

Statue of Chief Massasoit

Statue of Chief Massasoit

plaque honoring Squanto

plaque honoring Squanto


fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on September 18, 2020:

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.

Rosina S Khan on September 18, 2020:

It was nice knowing about Squanto, Friend and Savior of the Pilgrims. Interesting account indeed, Fran.

Readmikenow on September 17, 2020:

Fascinating bit of history. I enjoyed reading this story. Squanto certainly had many experiences during his life.

Related Articles