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Mama Bear Book Review: Squanto’s Journey

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By Janette Nuss

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November Book Selection:

Title: Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Written by: Joseph Bruchac

Illustrated by: Greg Shed

Children Age 10 and up

Honoring both Native American History Month and our American Thanksgiving Holiday, Squanto’s Journey tells of efforts leading to the First Thanksgiving. Written from a Native Indian perspective, this historical fiction book delves into the adventure, determination, courage, and forgiveness of Tisquantum (also known as Squanto).

Uniting two very different cultures, Squanto worked effectively with the Europeans and Native American Indians. His spirit to rise above his circumstances and build bridges of peace makes him one of the most influential liaisons between the Pilgrims and Indians.

Born in the late 1500s, Squanto belonged to the Patuxet tribe.

Located in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Patuxet tribe was part of the Wampanoag Confederacy.

Long before the first Thanksgiving, the Indians were frequently visited by the Europeans. Big ships would arrive to conduct trade, exchanging their goods for the Indian’s beaver fur and deer hides.

The Patuxets valued honor among people.

In 1614, Captain Hunt arrived on his ship. Claiming to be good friends with Captain Smith, who was well-regarded and trusted by the Patuxets, Captain Hunt invited them to dinner aboard his ship. Accepting his invitation, about twenty Indians, including Squanto, came aboard to join the feast.

Once everyone was aboard the ship, Captain Hunt pulled away from the shore. Setting sail for Malaga, Spain, Captain Hunt sold his trusting “dinner guests” into slavery.

Eventually freed from slavery by the Catholic Brothers, Squanto lived among them, learning English, the culture, and about the Creator.

Expressing his longing to return home, the brothers made arrangements to send Squanto to England, where ships were traveling west.

After learning more English, Squanto convinced Captain Dermer to take him on the next west voyage. Squanto would serve as a guide and interpreter.

Captain Dermer was aware of multiple intercultural problems that had developed. Squanto was a much-needed addition towards creating peaceful relations between the Indians and Europeans.

As the two reached the shore of Squanto’s homeland, he discovered that his entire family, friends, and nearly all of his tribe had died from a disease brought by the Europeans.

Further complicating Squanto’s desire to create peace was another Patuxet named Epahau. As a former slave of Captain Hunt’s trickery, Epahau escaped and returned home.

Vowing revenge on the Europeans, Epahau’s influence stirred the already unhappy emotions of the Indians; problems escalated.

Remaining focused on peace, Squanto continued work between the European Pilgrims and Native Indians. Eventually, everyone was able to work together.

In 1621, the First Thanksgiving took place, sharing food and prayers with both Indians and Pilgrims giving thanks to the creator of all things.

Availability: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com

KCLS has chosen to accept 14 copies of this book for the 50 libraries serving King County.

Mama Bear’s Commentary:

I chose “Squanto’s Journey” because he focused on overcoming whatever situation came his way.

He had room in his heart for others. Never taking time to wallow in self-pity or bitterness, Squanto’s relentless dedication to seeing others through a lens of love with patience and forgiveness is an example to all of us.

As young people are faced with unfairness, it is important to present leaders of character. Squanto is one of those leaders!

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