When the Pilgrims landed in the new world, God had prepared a person to be of significant help to them.[1]   Not in the same league as Daniel going into Babylon early or Joseph into Egypt, still, Squanto was an enormous help to the Pilgrims because they were unprepared to carve a living out from their new land.  

He first appeared in the historical record in 1615, when he and 23 other Indians were captured at Pawtuxet (Plymouth) in the Cape Cod area. Taken to Spain, he was sold as a slave.  While others disappeared, Squanto and a few other people were taken in by Catholic Friars and instructed in the Christian faith.

From Spain he escaped to England where he had the good fortune to attach himself to a wealthy merchant, John Slany, the treasurer of the Newfoundland Company. After two years and now fluent in English, Squanto was sent to Newfoundland, where he was valued as one who knew the New England coast.    

In the providence of God, Squanto returned to his native Pawtuxet.  He arrived to find his entire tribe had been wiped out by a plague. He was the sole survivor of his people.   God had removed him from the area in advance of the plague.  He had been educated and knew the sea, equipping him—likely without him knowing it—to be of enormous help to serve God’s people, the Pilgrims.

From the time Squanto first met the English settlers in March 1621 he did not leave them until his death two years later. 

One of his first services was to negotiate a treaty between the Sagamore chief Massasoit, the local Cape Cod chieftain, and the Pilgrims. Knowing both languages, Squanto was in a position to arrange peace and trade, which proved to be of mutual benefit.  Without his help, such a peace treaty might have taken years to establish.  

And agriculture!  What a help he was.  Squanto taught them how to plant seeds and bury a fish for fertilizer in the same hole. This was a real technological advance, to say nothing of catching the fish. Exploration was also a Squanto specialty—he guided the Pilgrims to investigate (what became) Boston Harbor. When a guide was needed, their Indian friend Squanto was chosen.  

His skills as a farmer, fisherman and interpreter were invaluable to the Pilgrims. And this resulted in a glorious Thanksgiving Day celebration for Indians and Pilgrims. Actually it was not day, it was three days, with Massasoit and about 90 braves in attendance.  

But like all of us sinners, Squanto was also looking out for himself.  The Pilgrims began to notice that “Squanto sought his owne ends, and plaid his owne game, by putting the Indians in fear, and drawing gifts from them to enrich him selfe.”[2]

Squanto also threatened the Indians that the white men kept the feared plague buried under the floor of their storehouse,[3] and they could release it “at their pleasure.”  This falsehood was discovered and Squanto lost status in the area. 

On another occasion, he falsely said that Massasoit was planning an attack on the Pilgrims.  When this proved wrong, again Squanto suffered a loss in respect and could have paid with his life. But Governor William Bradford knew the value he was to the Pilgrims, who appealed to Massasoit for lenency. 

Squanto’s last service to the Pilgrims was to serve as the guide for an expedition through the hazardous waters around Cape Cod in November 1622. The rocky shoreline and violent water forced them to put in at Monomoy Bay where Squanto became sick.   

Before he died, he wanted the “Governor to pray for him, that he might goe to ye Englishman’s God in heaven.” Whether Squanto knew the Englishmen’s God as his Saviour is not known, but certainly God had used him, despite his faults. 

The Take Home Truth from this article is:  (1) God providentially protected Squanto from a plague.  (2) God can use even horrendous experiences–being taken to a foreign country, being sold as a slave–to prepare us for service. (3) God is working in ways we simply do not know. Like Esther, God had Squanto in the right place at the right time “. . . for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). And He will have someone to help you, too. (4) We all need salvation through faith in Christ.  

[1]  While African-Americans have suffered horribly at the hands of the white man through slavery, they have responded to the Gospel and there are many, many healthy Black Christian churches in America today.  But the First Nations (Indians) have not. Why? The answer is found in the history of the relationship.  During the westward expansion (1730 – 1880), the American government made something like 162 treaties with First Nations people . . .  and broke every one of them.  Today, evangelizing First Nations people is a very slow, slow, difficult work.  Squantos are rare. 

[2]  The information source of this story is from Faith for the Family magazine, November 1985 by Louise Christman (Bob Jones University). She quotes this source, but does not document it, so I have no way to giving credit for it.   

[3]  This was not a plague, but gunpowder (maybe that is a plague).