Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving: A Terp Story

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect upon this interpreter from history. Squanto was a Native American man who befriended the pilgrims and was the interpreter and liaison between The Pilgrims and The Wampanoag Confederation. Looking back, he is probably the most important and influential interpreter in American history. If not for Squanto, The Pilgrims probably would not have survived that first winter.

Squanto was an unlikely interpreter. Around the year 1614, Squanto and 23 other Native Americans were kidnapped by an Englishman named John Hunt. Hunt brought the Native Americans back to England and sold them. Here, Squanto learned English. Although Squanto was mistreated, his abduction would prove to be both a blessing and a curse. In 1619, The Native Americans were wiped out by an unknown disease (probably small pox or tuberculosis). Because Squanto had been kidnapped, he was the only survivor of this plague. That year, Squanto met up with Captain Thomas Dermer, a man interested in trading beaver with the Natives in Massachusetts. He asked Squanto to accompany him back to America to try and reestablish a good report with the natives, who were still quite pissed off that their people had been kidnapped by John Hunt. Squanto agreed and went with Dermer, only to find that most of his people had been killed by this plague.

That November, in 1620, The Mayflower pulled ashore into Provincetown Harbor. From November through the winter the Pilgrims struggled. They had been met with hostility from the Native Americans and the spend most of their time on the Mayflower. On March 22, Squanto appeared to them, offering to make a peace treaty. From then on, Squanto became the interpreter for the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Because of Squanto, a peace treaty was made, and the first Thanksgiving happened in the fall of 1621; all because of an interpreter.

Happy Thanksgiving Terps!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Not sure the Native Americans would want to say "Thank you Squanto".

    I wouldn't.