Squanto, or Tisquantum
Patuxet Indian

~1585 - 1622

Squanto, also called Tisquantum, was a Patuxet Indian who befriended the Pilgrims. He helped the Pilgrims survive at Plymouth Colony.

Squanto was born near what is now Plymouth, Mass. In 1614, he was kidnapped by English fishermen and taken to Spain to be sold as a slave. He escaped to England, where he lived for several years and learned to speak English. He also lived in Newfoundland for a time. Squanto returned home in 1619. He found that the Patuxet tribe had been wiped out by disease and the few survivors had joined the Wampanoag tribe. Squanto also joined the Wampanoag.

In 1621, Squanto met the Pilgrims, who were nearly starving after their difficult first winter at Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims had angered the Wampanoag by stealing the Indians' corn. Squanto served as an interpreter between the colonists and the Wampanoag chief Massasoit and helped arrange a peace treaty. Squanto then stayed with the Pilgrims. He showed them how to plant corn and where to hunt and fish.

Squanto tried to challenge Massasoit's leadership of the Wampanoag. This plot angered the tribe, and Squanto became the enemy of the Wampanoag in 1622. He died from a fever later that year.

Contributor: Neal Salisbury, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Smith College.


The Story of Squanto
Magnalia Christi Americana
by Cotton Mather, D.D.

circa 1698

A most wicked shipmaster being on this coast a few years before, had wickedly spirited away more than twenty Indians; whom having enticed them aboard, he presently stowed them under hatches, and carried them away to the Streights, where he sold as many of them as he could for Slaves. This avaritious and pernicious felony laid the foundation for grievous annoyances to all the English endeavors of settlements, especially in the Northern parts of the land for several years ensuing. The Indians would never forget or forgive this injury. . .  But our good God so ordered it, that one of the stoln Indians, called Squanto, had escaped out of Spain into England; where he lived with one Mr. Slany, from whom he had found a way to return unto his own country, being brought back by one Mr. Dermer, about half a year before our honest Plymotheans were cast upon this continent. This Indian having received much kindness from the English, who generally condemned the man that first betrayed him, now made unto the English a return of that kindness: and being by his acquaintance with the English language, fitted with a conversation with them, he very kindly informed them what was the present condition of the Indians; instructed them in the way of ordering their Corn; and acquainted them with many other things, which it was necessary for them to understand. But Squanto did for them a yet greater benefit than all this: for he brought Massasoit, the chief Sachim or Prince of the Indians within many miles, with some scores of his attenders, to make our people a kind visit; the issue of which visit was, that Massasoit not only entred into a firm agreement of peace with the English, but also they declared and submitted themselves to be subjects of the King of England; into which peace and subjection many other Sachims quickly after came, in the most voluntary manner that could be expressed. It seems that this unlucky Squanto having told his countrymen how easie it was for so great a monarch as K. James to destroy them all, if they should hurt any of his people, he went on to terrifie them with a ridiculous rhodomantado, which they believed, that this people kept the plague in a cellar (where they kept their powder), and could at their pleasure let it loose to make such havock among them, as the distemper had already made among them a few years before. . .  Moreover, our English guns, especially the great ones, made a formidable report among these ignorant Indians; and their hopes of enjoying some defence by the English, against the potent nation of Narraganset Indians, now at war with them, made them yet more to court our friendship. This very strange disposition of things, was extreamly advantageous to our distressed planters: and who sees not herein the special providence of the God who disposeth all?

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