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1911 illustration of Tisquantum ("Squanto") teaching the Plymouth colonists to plant maize.
Born Tisquantum
November 15, 1585
Patuxet territory, Wampanoag Confederacy
(now Plymouth Bay, U.S.)
Died November 30, 1622
Chatham, Massachusetts Bay Colony, English America
Nationality Patuxet tribe
Known for Helping the pilgrims during their first visit to North America
Religion Christianity[1] (converted from Patuxet North American Indigenous Religion)

Tisquantum (died November 30, 1622), also known as Squanto, was a Patuxet man who assisted the Pilgrims after their first winter in what is now Massachusetts. He was integral to their very survival. He was a member of the Patuxet tribe, a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy. During his lifetime, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean six times, traveling with colonists to London and back.


  • Etymology 1
  • Early life and enslavement 2
  • Return to North America 3
  • Interactions with the Pilgrims 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Film 6
  • References 7
    • Primary sources 7.1
    • Secondary sources 7.2
  • External links 8


Squanto and Tisquantum derive from a Wampanoag word for divine rage. This was likely a name he was given as an adult. Smithsonian magazine reports:

"More than likely Tisquantum was not the name he was given at birth. In that part of the Northeast, tisquantum referred to rage, especially 'the world-suffusing spiritual power' at the heart of coastal Indians' religious beliefs. When Tisquantum approached the Pilgrims and identified himself by that sobriquet, it was as if he had stuck out his hand and said, Hello, I'm the Wrath of God."[2]

Early life and enslavement

Squanto's date and year of birth are unknown but many historians list them as January 1, 1585 or January 1, 1592. He was born in a Patuxet village, somewhere in the vicinity of present-day


  • Who Was Squantum?
  • History of Plymouth Plantation, c. 1650 · Treaty with the Indians 1621fromModern History Sourcebook: William Bradford:
  • Caleb Johnson's
  • Fish fertilizer: a Native North American Practice?; accessed November 26, 2014.
  • Squanto: Trans-Atlantic Translator

External links

  • 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; ISBN 978-0-385-72153-0
  • Nash, Struggle and Survival in Colonial America, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 228-45, 1989.
  • Salisbury, N. "Squanto: The Last of the Patuxets", 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.

Secondary 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)
  • 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)

Primary sources

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Profile: "Squanto",; accessed November 26, 2014.
  4. ^
  5. ^ (Uses modern spelling.)
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mann, Charles. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, New York: Random House, 2005.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Alan Axlerod, Little-known Wars of Great and Lasting Impact, p. 101, Fair Winds Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2009); ISBN 1592333753; ASIN: B005UVWT94
  10. ^
  11. ^ Weston, Thomas. History of the Town of Middleboro Massachusetts 1669–1905, Boston/New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1906.
  12. ^ Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. Penguin Books (paperback, April 24, 2007); ISBN 0143111973; ISBN 978-0143111979.
  13. ^



His name lives on in place names in Massachusetts' South Shore, most notably in the neighborhood of Squantum, Quincy, Massachusetts.


"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."

Governor William Bradford, in Bradford's History of the English Settlement, wrote regarding Squanto's death:

Myles Standish led a ten-man team of settlers from Plymouth to rescue Squanto if he was alive or, if he had been killed, to avenge him. He was found alive and 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 Squanto as liaison to the Pilgrims, 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 Squanto and On his way back from a meeting to repair damaged relations between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims, Squanto fell ill 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.[12] Squanto died a few days later in 1622 in Chatham, Massachusetts. He was buried in an unmarked grave, by a tree, possibly in Plymouth's cemetery Burial Hill.[13] Peace between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims lasted for another fifty years.

The Abenaki sagamore Samoset, who was visiting Wampanoag Chief Massasoit, introduced Squanto to the Plymouth colonists near the site of his former village.[3] It is widely believed that he helped them recover from an extremely hard first winter by teaching them the native method of maize cultivation, which buried local fish (menhaden) in the soil to fertilize crops. In 1621, Squanto 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, Squanto was captured by Wampanoag while gathering intelligence on the renegade sagamore Corbitant at the village of Nemasket (site of present-day Middleborough, Massachusetts).[11]

Interactions with the Pilgrims

In 1619, Squanto finally returned to his homeland aboard John Smith's ship, having joined an exploratory expedition along the New England coast, led by Captain Dermer. He soon discovered that the Patuxet, as well as a majority of coastal New England tribes (mostly Wampanoag and Massachusett), had been decimated the previous year by a plague,[9] possibly smallpox. (In 2010 researchers published an article suggesting this had been an epidemic of leptospirosis).[10]

[8] Some local friars discovered what Hunt was attempting, so they took Squanto and the other Native Americans to instruct them in the

Return to North America

Squanto returned to New England in 1614 with an expedition led by Captain John Smith. On his way back to Patuxet, Squanto was abducted by Thomas Hunt, one of Smith's lieutenants. Hunt was planning to sell fish, corn, and captured natives in Málaga, Spain. He transported Squanto and a number of other Native Americans to Spain, where he tried to sell them into slavery for £20 a piece.[4][5]


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