1911 illustration of Tisquantum ("Squanto") teaching the Plymouth colonists to plant maize.
January 1, 1585
Patuxet territory, Wampanoag Confederacy
(modern Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, United States)
|Died||November 30, 1622 (age 37)
Chatham, Massachusetts Bay Colony
|Known for||Helping the pilgrims during their first visit to North America|
Tisquantum (January 1, 1585 – November 30, 1622), also known as Squanto, was the Native American who assisted the Pilgrims after their first winter in the New World and was integral to their survival. He was a member of the Patuxet tribe, a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy.
Early life and enslavement 
Squanto's exact date of birth is unknown but many historians list it as January 1, 1580. On his way back to the Patuxet in 1614, Squanto was kidnapped by Englishman Thomas Hunt. Hunt was one of John Smith's lieutenants. Hunt was planning to sell fish, corn, and captured natives in Málaga, Spain. There, Hunt attempted to sell Squanto and a number of other Native Americans into slavery in Spain for £20 apiece.
Return to North America 
Some local monks discovered what Hunt was attempting and took the remaining Native Americans — Tisquantum included — in order to instruct them in the Christian faith. Quantum convinced the friars to let him try to return home. He managed to get to London, where he lived with John Slany, a shipbuilder for whom he worked for a few years. Slany apparently taught Tisquantum more English. Slant took Quantum with him when he sailed to Cuper's Cove, Newfoundland. To get to New England, Tisquantum tried to take part in an expedition to that part of the North American east coast. When that plan fell through, he returned to England in 1618. At last in 1619 Tisquantum returned to his homeland aboard John Smith’s ship, having joined an exploratory expedition along the New England coast, led by Captain Thomas Dermer. He soon discovered that the Patuxet, as well as a majority of coastal New England tribes (mostly Wampanoag and Massachusett), had been killed off the year before by an epidemic plague, possibly smallpox; it has recently been postulated as having been leptospirosis. Native Americans had no natural immunity to European infectious diseases and were isolated from the effects of natural selection that affected Europe through various epidemics.
Interactions with the Pilgrims 
Tisquantum finally settled with Pilgrims at the site of his former village, which the English named Plymouth. It is a commonly held belief that he helped them recover from an extremely hard first winter by teaching them the native method of maize cultivation. This story claimed a method that utilized local fish (menhaden) to fertilize crops. He is commonly thought to have taught the colonists how to catch the menhaden necessary to fertilize maize in the native fashion along with the methods by which they could catch eels and other local wildlife for food.
In 1621 Tisquantum was the guide and translator for settlers Stephen Hopkins and Edward Winslow as they traveled upland on a diplomatic mission to the Wampanoag sachem, known today as Massasoit. In a subsequent mission for Governor William Bradford that summer, Tisquantum was captured by Wampanoag while gathering intelligence on the renegade sagamore, Corbitant, at the village of Nemasket (site of present-day Middleborough, Massachusetts.) Myles Standish led a ten-man team of settlers from Plymouth to rescue Tisquantum if he were alive or, if he had been killed, to avenge him. Tisquantum was found alive and well. He was welcomed back by the Pilgrims at Plymouth, where he continued in his vital role as assistant to the colony.
Although he worked at alliances, Massasoit, the sachem who first appointed Tisquantum as liaison to the Pilgrims, nevertheless did not trust him in the tribe's dealings with the settlers. He assigned Hobomok (whose name may have been a pseudonym, as it meant "mischievous"), to watch over Tisquantum and act as a second representative.
On his way back from a meeting to repair damaged relations between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims, Tisquantum became sick with a fever. He began bleeding from the nose. Some historians have speculated that he was poisoned by the Wampanoag because they believed he had been disloyal to the sachem. Tisquantum died a few days later in 1625 in Chatham, Massachusetts. He was buried in an unmarked grave, possibly in Plymouth's cemetery Burial Hill. Peace between the two groups lasted for another fifty years.
Governor William Bradford, in Bradford's History of the English Settlement, wrote regarding Tisquantum's death:
Here [Manamoick Bay] Squanto fell ill of Indian fever, bleeding much at the nose, which the Indians take as a symptom of death, and within a few days he died. He begged the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishman's God in heaven, and bequeathed several of his things to his English friends, as remembrances. His death was a great loss.
Fictional representations 
Tisquantum appeared in "The Mayflower Voyagers," a 1988 episode of the Peanuts television miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown. This is now tied to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
- "Squanto". Roots Web. Retrieved Nov 30, 2009.
- Sir Ferdinando Gorges, "A Brief Relation of the Discovery and Plantation of New England" (London: 1622)
- 1491. Mann, Charles C.
- Kinnicutt, L. N. (1914–1915). "Plymouth settlement and Tisquantum". Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc. XLVIII: 103–18.
- Marr JS, Cathey JT. New hypothesis for cause of an epidemic among Native Americans, New England, 1616–1619. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2010 Feb. doi:10.3201/eid1602.090276
- Continental Drift (November 29, 2006). "Squanto". Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- Philbrick, Nathaniel: Mayflower, p. 138. Viking, 2006.
- Neely, Kirk H. (July 13, 2009). "First Americans: Tisquantum". Retrieved May 10, 2012.
Primary sources 
- Bradford, W. Governor William Bradford's Letter Book. Boston: Applewood, 2002 (reprint from 1906).
- Bradford, W. Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647. New York: Modern Library 1981 (1856).
- Gorges, Ferdinand. "A Briefe Relation of the Discovery and Plantation of New England," in Baxter 1890, I:203-40 (1622).
- Morton, T. New English Canaan, or New Canaan. London: Charles Green, 1637.
- Winslow, E. Good Newes from New-England: or A True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimoth in New-England. London: William Bladen and John Bellamie, 1624
Secondary sources 
- Cell, G.T. "The Newfoundland Company: A Study of Subscribers to a Colonizing Venture", William & Mary Quarterly (WMQ) 22:611-25, 1965.
- Deetz, J. and P.S. Deetz. The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony. New York: Random House, 2000.
- Mann, Charles. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, New York: Random House, 2005.
- Nash, Struggle and Survival in Colonial America, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 228-45, 1989.
- Salisbury, N. "Squanto: The Last of the Patuxets," in D.G. Sweet and G.B. Nash, Struggle and Survival in Colonial America, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 228-45, 1989.
- Salisbury, N. Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500–1643. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
- Weston, Thomas. History of the Town of Middleboro Massachusetts 1669–1905, Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1906.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Squanto|
- Who Was Squantum?
- Modern History Sourcebook: William Bradford: from History of Plymouth Plantation, c. 1650 · Treaty with the Indians 1621
- Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory.com
- "Squanto". Folk Figure. Find a Grave. Oct 23, 2002. Retrieved Aug 18, 2011.