Do You Know Squanto?

Squanto, Thanksgiving, gratitude, pilgrims, Mayflower
Do You Know the story of Squanto?

Squanto

The story of the pilgrims is familiar, remarkable and exemplary; however, the story of Squanto completely intrigues me.  It a story of miracles, forgiveness, love, surviving with  dignity and seeing God’s hand in ways never imagined. You will never think of Thanksgiving the same after reading this amazing life of Squanto.


Squanto was a Patuxet, which was a band of the Wampanoag tribe.

Traders were known to the Indians as they came from far away Europe, including, of course, England. One day, a Captain Hunter directed his ship along the coast of what we now call Massachusetts to trade with the Indians. Squanto and some friends went to see the Captain, as he had traded with them before. Rather than trade with the boys, Captain Hunter and his men hit the young men over the head. The boys were immediately transformed into his captives.

Can you imagine the terror these Indian boys felt as they regained consciousness in a dark, stuffy, rolling vessel? The food was putrid; rats were scampering about; the water was rancid; not to mention the sheer brutal treatment as a young Indian captive. After what would have been several months, the ship stopped in a land the youth had never imagined even existed: Malaga, Spain. The Indians were herded off the ship and into the sunlight. The light stung their eyes and drove an intense pain right to their brain after spending several months in the dark hull of the ship. Horror, dread, and shock were likely but a few of the emotions these boys felt as they were lined up to be sold as slaves.

Squanto was a Patuxet, which was a band of the Wampanoag tribe. Traders were known to the Indians as they came from far away Europe, including, of course, England. One day, a Captain Hunter directed his ship along the coast of what we now call Massachusetts to trade with the Indians. Squanto and some friends went to see the Captain, as he had traded with them before. Rather than trade with the boys, Captain Hunter and his men hit the young men over the head. The boys were immediately transformed into his captives.

Can you imagine the terror these Indian boys felt as they regained consciousness in a dark, stuffy, rolling vessel? The food was putrid; rats were scampering about; the water was rancid; not to mention the sheer brutal treatment as a young Indian captive. After what would have been several months, the ship stopped in a land the youth had never imagined even existed: Malaga, Spain.

The Indians were herded off the ship and into the sunlight. The light stung their eyes and drove an intense pain right to their brain after spending several months in the dark hull of the ship. Horror, dread, and shock were likely but a few of the emotions these boys felt as they were lined up to be sold as slaves.

 



Squanto must have recognized that his five years with the monks, as unfortunate his circumstances were that brought him there in the first place, were quite different from how his life could have been had someone else bought him that day at the auction. Naturally he missed his home, his family, his people, and his land. The monks managed to arrange for the lad to travel to England from Spain, in hopes of finding a ship. It must be noted that the odds of Squanto actually travelling back to the American continent were stacked high against him.

It is unfortunate that we do not have the history of how Squanto traveled from Spain to England. Did he have a map? Did he travel with a caravan? The speech he had learned as a baby was now replaced with the Spanish dialect of the monks.As he traveled, he likely did not understand English, which would be a major detriment once he entered the country.

Squanto somehow came to reside as a stable boy for a family in London, England,whose name was Slaney. He prayed fervently every single day to someday return home to his family, to hug and kiss his parents, his siblings, his friends. The longing for this reuniting must have been agonizing.

Finally, a trading ship was scheduled to sail to the coast of North America. It was around 1618, and another five years had passed while he was in England and learning the English culture and language. Because of his linguistic capabilities, he became the translator on the ship in trade of passage.

The journey was rigorous and long.

Finally, the ship landed and, by providence, it stopped on the cost of Massachusetts. He must have bolted off the vessel and ran as swiftly as he could to the home of his boyhood. I’m sure tears of joy were streaming down his face as he made his way to the village.

Horrified, he saw the place was abandoned. There was no one there, not even a dog to bark and announce his arrival.

 



Traveling on, he found Indians in a neighboring tribe who told him the devastating news that a disease had struck the people and everyone had died. There was not a soul left.

The heartbreak and sadness, even depression that may have hung around him, weighed upon him like the heavy smoke of fire. He had yearned for this moment: to see his family and friends for over ten years, and it was never to be. Squanto went to the woods to live by himself, in self designated seclusion. He was no longer an Indian with the ways of the tribes. He was not a Spaniard to live the ways of the monks. He was not an Englishman or stable boy. His family and tribe were gone. He found himself as a lone man without family or country; truly a stranger in a strange land, if there ever was one.

In 1620, a little band of Pilgrims suffered great persecution from their own people and country, and sacrificed all for the opportunity to worship God freely, and in their own way. They crossed the great Atlantic in a relatively small boat for a long ocean voyage, and put all their trust in God and His purpose for them.

Landing at Plymouth, they hoped for a life of freedom to worship as Christians and with enough prosperity to raise their families. The first year for the small band was nightmarish. Disaster struck the settlement, and fifty percent of their population had died. No one could have blamed them had any questioned God’s purpose in all that had happened. Their disastrous situation was catastrophic, leaving the Pilgrims barely able to see no light and hope; only more death and starvation.

An Indian from a neighboring tribe tried to communicate with the Pilgrims and to help them, but to no avail. He traveled to get Squanto since he knew the ways and language of the white man.

Squanto sympathized with the news of the strangers, and as he came to their village he spoke to them in English. Can you imagine the shock of the Pilgrims? An Indian brave speaking the King’s English in 1621!

Ironically, the Pilgrims had settled and made their homes on the very spot that Squanto’s parents, friends and family had lived. The village that had been abandoned was now his home again as he was adopted by this group of people trying to live a life according to God’s plan for them.

 

 



He knew how to plant corn with fish as a fertilizer and to embed a gourd around the cornstalk to help it grow. He taught them to fish, to get eels out of the muddy streams, and to find lobsters.

He was there with the knowledge of that land, the language to communicate – all to be a savior to this very special group who would be a seed that would later become the United States of America. He also helped open relations and trade with various Indian tribes and the settlers. Plymouth Governor William Bradford was moved to declare him a “spetiall (special) instrument sent of God for [their] good”.

We all have struggles, trials and circumstances that are so foreign and even incomprehensible at times that we naturally question why we must endure these incredible hardships. We may even wonder if God is there, knows us, and has a plan for our good. Yet, if we pray, stay close to Him and remember that He loves each one individual as His own son or daughter, we can begin to realize that His love for each and every single one of us is unfathomable and intense. Our Father has not sent us here to fail, but to overcome the things of the world that do not matter, to be triumphant in overcoming our own weaknesses, to be steadfast in persevering through difficulties and endure well to the end by never losing faith in Him, His son Jesus Christ, or our ability to love as He loves us.

We may not have the spectacular events of Squanto, but be assured, and do not doubt that God has a plan for you. His eye is always on you. His love is there to surround you. His ways are not always going to mirror ours, but they are perfect. His hand is outstretched continually, never failing to lead you along on correct paths.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving season, let us count our blessings one by one. It is amazing what the Lord is doing to help us be more like Him. Let us have courage and determination to be victorious while on our journey here in this life, despite challenges that may be placed in our way. For this I pray, for each and every one. Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014 (edited by Dallin Groneman 2016 – THANK YOU son!!!)

Recognize a blessing and Be a Blessing today  




Comments

  1. Carrie,

    God truly does has a plan for all of us, but it can be so difficult to understand when we are going through hard times and we cannot see our future. Our faith gets stronger when we have to trust God. The older we get and the more we see that God has been faithful and has help us through difficult times, hopefully the closer we get to God.

    I am truly thankful for Squanto teaching the pilgrims everything. We may not be here today without what he did.

    Blessings and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
    Diane

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