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Squanto's hard times prepared him for an unusual mission to the pilgrim

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Twice-Kidnapped Rescuer,
part two

Samoset was back, but not alone! He walked into the wilderness town of Plymouth with Chief Massasoit, 60 Indian warriors, and Squanto. The Pilgrims were not terrified. Already, they had endured a frightful ocean voyage and a terrible winter, during which nearly half of their people died. Only 54 remained. But instead of being bitter, they had become one.

Spring was coming, but the Pilgrims faced starvation. They desperately needed food and skills to survive in this new land. Would these visitors help? What about Chief Massasoit, who was the leader of several small neighboring tribes? The chief welcomed the Pilgrims and accepted them as friends. Later a fair peace treaty was made that lasted forty years.

When Massasoit left Plymouth, Squanto remained. Who was he? His is a curious story! When he was about 18, he lived where the Pilgrims now were living. He was kidnapped, taken to England and taught the English language so he could give information about his homeland.

Squanto spent nine years in England, acquiring many new skills. Finally, he was allowed to return to his home across the ocean.  Unbelievably, he was kidnapped a second time by a ship captain. This man was a slaver. He tricked Squanto and 19 other Patuxet Indians, pretending he wanted to bargain with them. Instead they were captured, put into iron chains, and taken to Spain.  Each was sold for $1,400.00. Squanto was bought and rescued by Catholic priests, and introduced to the Christian faith.

Soon he left the Catholic monastery in Spain. From England he found his way home, crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the fourth time. It was fourteen years since he had first been kidnapped. He longed to be with his tribe.  But, nothing remained of his people.  Where his friends and family had lived, now there were skulls and bones. There were no signs of murder or war, only of disease. Squanto wandered around where he used to hunt, where he hoped to live. In despair he went to a neighboring tribal area where Chief Massasoit felt pity for him and allowed Squanto to live with the tribe.

Then Samoset made his surprise visit to the Pilgrims. He told Squanto how the Pilgrims were like babies dumped into woods.  They knew nothing of the land. Squanto understood survival and especially in his home territory. Soon his mission was helping the Pilgrims.

His first lesson was teaching them how to catch fat slippery eels and prepare them as a sweet, delicious food. He showed the young men how to squish eels out of mud with their bare feet, and pick them up with their hands.

Another lesson was planting corn the Indian way using fish for fertilizer. Catching the fish was an adventure.  Squanto taught the Pilgrims to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, make maple syrup, find plants for medicines, and choose good berries. They learned how to earn money by trapping beaver and selling their furs.

 A beautiful summer brought a wedding, trading with Indians, and a bountiful fall harvest. The Pilgrims were filled with thanksgiving to Squanto, to Massasoit and his tribe, and certainly to God. Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate in the United States every year in November.

          This is Barbara Steiner speaking. It has been my pleasure to share with you this inspiring story from American history.

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