Compassionate Human Being; died in November 1622
Tisquantum, a.k.a. Squanto, was born in New England in the 1580s. He belonged to the Patuxet subtribe of the Wampanoag Confederation.
Squanto met English explorers for the first time in 1605, when one George Weymouth captured him and took him to England. Weymouth handed Squanto over to Sir Fernandino Gorges, the founder of Maine (who never traveled to Maine). Squanto lived in England for nine years, during which he learned the English language well.
Squanto returned to North America with Captain John Smith in 1614. That year, Captain Thomas Hunt (an associate of Captain Smith) kidnapped Squanto and 20 other Wampanoags then seized 70 others before sailing to Spain, where he began selling them into slavery. Roman Catholic priests redeemed the natives and prevented the sale of others into slavery. During the next three years Squanto lived in Spain and became a Christian.
In 1617 Squanto returned to England, where he lived in the London home of John Slany, treasurer of the Newfoundland Company. There Squanto met Thomas Dermer, a former subordinate of Captain John Smith, who took him back to visit Sir Fernandino Gorges. Gorges permitted Squanto to return to North America in 1619.
When Squanto returned to his home he discovered that his subtribe was no more, for a combination of warfare and diseases had killed the population. In March 1620, Squanto, living among fellow (and sometimes hostile) fellow Wampanoags, made contact with the recently arrived Pilgrims. He taught the Pilgrims how to farm successfully in New England, thereby saving their lives. Thus he first Thanksgiving occurred in October 1621.
Squanto became caught up in Wampanoag power struggles (Politics has long been a nasty business.), but the Pilgrims gave Squanto asylum. He died of a severe fever in November 1622.
The peace Squanto helped establish lasted for five decades.
When I was in elementary school I learned about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, not not the biography of this great man. Let us honor him.
Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses. Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servant Squanto, may persevere in the course that is set before us and, at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31