Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Past

Spanish Monks, a Man Named Squanto and Their Story

He was a hard man who dwelled alone in the forest. In his buckskin clothes the Native American man must have been an imposing sight. He walked toward the Pilgrim settlement and said "good morning" in fine proper English! Thus came Squanto into the Pilgrim story.

Squanto, the Patuxet Indian, who aided the struggling Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock thus paving the way for the first Thanksgiving in America, had at one time been captured and enslaved by English merchants. These merchants had taken Squanto to Malaga, Spain to sell him. In Malaga some local priests got wind of what was happening and stepped in to free Squanto, who would then spend the next four years of his life living in Southern Spain, learning about Christianity and the Spanish language.

After these years, Squanto spent seven years in England (also learning English) waiting for a ship to take him back to America, where he made his historic meeting with the Pilgrims, who were more than thankful (and quite surprised also) to find an Indian fluent in English and familiar with European customs.

When Squanto finally returned to these shores he found that his people were no more. Disease had killed everyone in his village. Squanto lived alone in the woods until one day a man from another tribe told him of some new people living in his old village. The new people turned out to be the Pilgrims, who had fared badly through their first Winter. About half of them had died.

Squanto must have found great empathy for the settlers and he taught them how to improve their farming. He showed them how to make corn grow better by planting the seed with a bit of fish to fertilize it. He helped the Pilgrims and the local Native people interact and thus facilitated the first Thanksgiving that they shared.

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