Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you, Squanto

Ah, yes. The day that all America gives thanks to the Lord (or for the atheists and agnostics gathering at their tables to thank themselves) for the many blessings we enjoy. The end of this year has been pretty tough on all of us but, despite the economic downturn, we still have much to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to in the future. As to the past, the one person that should be thanked above all, though, is Squanto. Squanto? You mean you don't recall the story of the Native American member of the Wampanoag tribe, who saved the original Pilgrims from what would have been their first and last winter had he not been, more or less, where they landed. The incredible story of Squanto is filled with good fortune, bad luck and redemption. Credit English explorer John Weymouth with getting Squanto to England, having him learn English and learn about "civilization." Squanto, captured by the Spanish some years later, had his freedom secured by the very same John Weymouth. He returned to his homeland with another captured Native American --Samoset -- only a few months prior to the Mayflower's arrival at Plymouth Rock. Because he knew of English society and spoke English, Squanto was an essential liaison to the native tribe there. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how and what to farm, provided them pelts of beaver to keep warm, and gave them deer meat for sustenance. Squanto showed the Pilgrims, already decimated by disease and bitter weather, how to build round-roofed wigwams made of poles and flat sheets of wood. It was Captain Miles Standish who invited Squanto and Samoset along with their chief, Massasoit, to a feast that became known as the precursor to the first real Thanksgiving meal. There is so much I could tell you, but if you're interested in learning more, read this link.

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