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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Squanto: A Thanksgiving Drama (Part 1 of 2)

Squanto: A Thanksgiving Drama (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family presents our Radio Theatre production of "The Legend of Squanto," a fascinating account of the origin of Thanksgiving and one American Indian's journey to freedom. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: November 25, 2004



Captain Dermer: Shout if you see anyone. And keep your muskets at the ready!

Crew members: Aye, sir … yes, sir.

Captain Dermer: What do you make of it, Tisquantum?

Squanto: It is an empty village.

Captain Dermer: Yes, I can see that. But why?

Squanto: Possibly they have hidden from fear or they are about to attack.

Captain Dermer: Oh, good.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That dramatization is from “Focus on the Family’s” Radio Theatre team and we have a presentation for you today from them. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and our message today is both captivating and heartwarming.

Jim Daly: It is, John, and you know, these messages are appropriate year-round, but particularly at this time of year they resonate. That Thanksgiving message comes through. It’s the “Legend of Squanto.” Many of us know the story, but to hear it kind of come alive the way our Radio Theatre team does is really helpful. I think it brings it more to life.

And we’re gonna go back in time over 400 years when the Western World saw unprecedented opportunity for exploration, discover in the so-called New World at the time. And because of that, the European travelers encountered Native Americans whose ancestry went back for hundreds and hundreds of years.

For some, the Indians represented an opportunity for trade and commerce. But for a lot of them, the Indians were a race to be exploited. Tisquantum, who will later become known as Squanto, will find himself caught in the conflict between the arriving Europeans and the Native Americans.

We’re diving right into the story and Squanto has been kidnapped from his homeland as a young man and has been taken captive by English slave traders. They take him to Spain, where they try to sell him, but the auction is broken up by a priest named Father Juan, who is now giving Squanto sanctuary at his monastery in the mountains of Spain.

John: Yeah, this is a tremendous story. It’s so well-crafted. We can’t present the entire Radio Theatre drama of Squanto, but we’ve condensed it down for these couple of days here on the radio. And you can get the full version at In fact, we’ll send the 2-CD set of Squanto to you as our way of saying thank you for a generous donation of any amount to the ministry today. And with that, let’s begin this special “Focus on the Family” presentation, The Legend of Squanto.


Massasoit: (Narrating) Two full moons passed for Tisquantum at the monastery in the mountains. The “monks,” as they are called, treated Tisquantum with kindness. They taught him of their God and their worship and their ways of releasing the Earth’s great bounty. Tisquantum was like the dry ground in the rain, drinking in as much as they gave. But his tribe, he never forgot. It was his desire to return one day to teach them all he’d been taught by the monks.

(Miguel and Squanto, in a field behind the monastery.)

Miguel: You see, Tisquantum, we use the fish remains as fertilizer. Even in this soil, it aids the growth of the vegetables. We have a wonderful harvest as a result. God has been good.

Squanto: Yes, your God is a powerful God.

Miguel: Is He not your God as well?

Squanto: I believe in your God, but I still cannot understand how it is that He became a man … to walk the earth like us and die.

Miguel: Can any of us truly understand it? Yet He did. You have seen our Scriptures.

Squanto: The sacred words.

Miguel: Yes. He took our sins to the cross and then rose again on the third day to defeat death.

Squanto: But He did so for you and other Europeans. I am an Indian.

Miguel: Under this flesh, we are no different. What He did, He did for the entire world.

Squanto: Even Captain Hunt and others who steal men to make them slaves?

Miguel: Yes. He died even for Captain Hunt, if only for Captain Hunt. His love and forgiveness are that vast.

Squanto: Hm? I would respect your God more if He would punish Captain Hunt.

Miguel: And other sinners like him?

Squanto: Yes.

Miguel: Then He would have to begin with me. He would have to kill me first, Tisquantum.

Squanto: But you are a good man!

Miguel: I may seem good. But I am corrupt, like you, like Captain Hunt. Our sins may not be so obvious to the human eye, nor so great by human measurements, but they are there–every one–for God to see. It is for those sins that God’s Son died, great or small.

Squanto: This is a mystery to me.

Miguel: Yes, it is. But a mystery I pray you will embrace with your whole heart before you go.

Squanto: Before I go? Am I to go somewhere?

Miguel: I received a message from Father Juan this morning. He wants you to return to Malaga with us when we take our crops to market. He says he has good news for you.

Squanto: What good news?

Father Juan: I have found a way to get you home, my son. Back to your land and your people.

Squanto: How can this be accomplished?

Father Juan: I have an acquaintance who is a trader, not like Captain Hunt. He is honorable and filled with the love of God. He conducts business in England, sometimes on behalf of our king and he knows a wealthy merchant named John Slany. We have discussed the matter and he is confident that once he gets you to England, you will then find the means to return to the New World through Mr. Slany.

Squanto: As his slave?

Father Juan: No, no, you will go as a servant. A valuable servant who is intelligent and noble and speaks not only your own tongue but also the tongues of the Spanish and the English. If the English are half as smart as I think they are, they will find you of great service to them.

Squanto: I am sorry, Father, but my heart is heavy. I do not trust the English.

Father Juan: Oh, listen, my child, every nation has its Captain Hunts, those who persecute and oppress. Not all Englishmen are like him.

Squanto: Are there Christians in England?

Father Juan: Yes (Chuckling), I suppose so, though most are not members of our church.

Squanto: They believe in your God and in your Jesus, but are not part of your tribe?

Father Juan: No.

Squanto: How can this be?

Father Juan: It’s a long, long story and will only confuse you. It confuses me at times. Now, gather your things! Your journey begins this very day.

Squanto: So quickly?

Father Juan: My acquaintance leaves on a ship this very night.

Squanto: But this would require us to say good-bye.

Father Juan: Not good-bye, Tisquantum, ’til we meet again.

Squanto: Will we meet again, Father?

Father Juan: Accept the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart and yes, we will meet again.

Squanto: Perhaps one day, but I cannot make my heart yield now. It is too restless and still too full of hate against those who stole me from my people.

Father Juan: Then I will pray for you, my son and God will work in your heart.

Squanto: Thank you, Father, for all you have done.

Father Juan: Come! Your ship awaits.

Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum was taken to meet Father Juan’s friend, the noble Luis Valdez. For the second time in his life, Tisquantum entered a large boat. But this time he did not sleep in the dark hold as a slave, but entered the quarters as the nobleman’s servant. They departed Malaga, Spain that night. Tisquantum watched the land grow faint on the horizon and gave thanks for his new freedom–not to a distant Great Spirit, but to the God of Father Juan and Miguel and all the compassionate monks who had treated him as a brother. A new adventure was about to begin.

(Music bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Many moons came and went. Tisquantum observed the English and learned all he could from them. With their strange-smelling oils which they spread on their bodies, their painted faces, their false hair, which they wore like funny hats and their decorative clothes, which would not last a single moon in the wilderness. Tisquantum was doubtful that these people had the courage or honor to do more than eat, drink and sleep away their days. He took comfort in this thought. If he helped the English to trade with the tribes, he knew they could never do his people much harm. Mr. Slany at last decided that it was time for Tisquantum to meet his employer–Mr. Ferdinando Gorges–and a ship’s captain named Thomas Dermer. They sat down together at a great table and ate large quantities of food.

Ferdinando Gorges: All right now, Slany, we have had a splendid meal. Let’s get on with it.

Captain Dermer: Yes, bring out this Indian we’ve heard so much about.

John Slany: And what, pray tell, have you heard about Tisquantum?

Ferdinando Gorges: Oh, don’t be coy. You know very well he’s the talk of London.

John Slany: Oh, is he?

Captain Dermer: What did you think, that you could bring an Indian to London, dress him up as an Englishman and not have people notice him?

Ferdinando Gorges: It’s all my servants talk about. How they saw the Indian at the market or running an errand for you. I met with some members of Parliament just last Tuesday. They were talkin’ about him.

John Slany: Parliament, you say. I’m glad to hear of it.

Captain Dermer: I’ve also hear that you’ve been taking him to church. Church, Slany? Have you become a missionary to the heathen now?

John Slany: Well, he is interested and I would not deny him the opportunity to learn more of our God.

Captain Dermer: Yeah, good for you. Now, will you please do us the honor of introducing him?

John Slany: I will; I will; I will, indeed. Mr. Dilber, please bring in Tisquantum.

Mr. Dilber: Yes, sir.

Ferdinando Gorges: Slany, you know how anxious the Newfoundland Company is about the colonies. We’ve had our share of successes and failures there, so the stockholders are wary.

John Slany: As your treasurer, I’m more than aware of their feelings.

Ferdinando Gorges: All that notwithstanding, we fear that if we don’t move more quickly, the French will gain a foothold on the lands we are interested in. Our desire is for New England to stay as New England.

John Slany: Oh, yes, sir, yes. It’s my intention to impress you enough with what Tisquantum has to say, that you and the stockholders of the company, will take instant action. Ah! Here he is. Gentlemen, I give you Tisquantum of the Pawtuxet tribe near Cape Cod. And Tisquantum, allow me to introduce Mr. Ferdinando Gorges and Captain Thomas Dermer.

Squanto: It is a pleasure to meet you, gentlemen.

Ferdinando Gorges: Oh, I (Chuckling) say! Delightful!

Captain Dermer: Most impressive.

John Slany: Now then gentlemen, shall we retire to the drawing room where Tisquantum will be glad to answer all of your questions?

Ferdinando Gorges: Indeed!

John Slany: This way; this way.

Massasoit (Narrating): Through all the rest of that evening, as the candles grew dim, Tisquantum spoke of our land. He told of the fertile fields, the rich forests and the clear streams. They asked about the goods traded between the tribes, their agreements with the French, the paths and hunting grounds they used. Mr. Slany spoke of the soil of New England and how it would accept English seeds for crops. The night grew long; the men talked and talked until Mr. Gorges finally said:

Mr. Gorges: It can be done! I believe it’s possible! Slany, if you and your Indian …

John Slany: Ah, Tisquantum, sir.

Mr. Gorges: Oh, oh, yeah, yes, of course. If you can make as effective a demonstration to the stockholders as you have to us, we’ll have the investment we need.

Captain Dermer: Yes.

Mr. Gorges: The king will have to grant us a new charter! Wouldn’t you say, Captain Dermer?

Captain Dermer: Oh, yes, sir. It sounds promising enough.

Mr. Gorges: Leave it to me to make the arrangements. Oh, this is good, Slany. This is very good.

John Slany: Well, thank you, Mr. Gorges. And thank you, Tisquantum.

Squanto: I’m at your service, sir.

Massasoit (Narrating): Mr. Gorges worked hard to impress his rich, white friends that an expedition to our land would fill their purses with much gold. Several moons came and went. Then the news came to Mr. Slany’s house that the great white chief, King James, had given them permission to sail three of their large ships to New England under Captain Dermer.

John Slany: Open a bottle of wine, Mr. Dilber! This is a day of celebration.

Mr. Dilber: Yes, sir.

John Slany: Sit down, Tisquantum. Or stand. Or dance. I … I don’t care. I couldn’t be happier with the news.

Squanto: I see your happiness, Mr. Slany.

John Slany: What? Oh, come now! How can you look so stern-faced? Don’t you know what this means?

Squanto: I know it means that you and the Newfoundland Company will try to make a lot of money.

John Slany: Well, is … is that all it means to you?

Squanto: You have not spoken of anything else.

John Slany: Oh, I understand now. My dear boy, have you been amongst the English all this time and … ah … you still don’t understand unless you’re spoken to directly.

Squanto: Indians are raised to be plain and forthright in their speaking.

John Slany: All right, then. All right, then. Let me speak plainly to you. You think I’ve forgotten what I told you at the beginning, right? Ha … put your heart to rest. I have not forgotten. Captain Dermer’s expedition for America will leave very soon and you, my friend, will be with him. (Chuckling)

Squanto: What?!

John Slany: Yes! I have secured your place as his translator and guide.

Mr. Dilber: Your wine, sir.

John Slany: Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Dilber. Tisquantum, I drink to you and to your voyage home.

Squanto: (Thoughtfully) Hm … home.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): As a young man, Tisquantum was stolen from his people and his land. Now he turned his face into the salty wind and looked forward to his return–as a brave warrior who had seen more in a few years than most would see in a lifetime.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Captain Dermer’s three ships left England early in the springtime of the year the English call one thousand, six-hundred and nineteen. Winter’s grip had not loosened yet. Tisquantum feared that the sleet and hail that lashed the boats was a warning from the English God to stay away. Captain Dermer took Tisquantum on his ship south to New England. They kept close to the shore from Maine to Massachusetts.

Captain Dermer: Does it look familiar to you, Tisquantum?

Squanto: Yes, it does. Though the tribes of these parts have been enemies to my tribe. I am surprised that we don’t see anyone. Surely they would notice a ship as large as this.

Captain Dermer: Maybe they aren’t as impressed with large ships as they used to be. Tisquantum, if we encounter any Indians, will you speak to them? Will you assure them, on behalf of the Newfoundland Company, that we have no wish for anything other than peace?

Squanto: I will do what I can.

Captain Dermer: And will you assure me also that when we put to shore you won’t run away?

Squanto: You dishonor me, Captain Dermer.

Captain Dermer: I only mean that …

Squanto: I know well what you mean. I have come to help you in exchange for my freedom. I will not accept my freedom until I have fulfilled my duties.

Captain Dermer: Of course. I’m sorry, Tisquantum. I didn’t mean to dishonor you. Mr. McFie, prepare a boat for shore!

First Mate Mcfie: Aye-aye, Captain!

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Captain Dermer, Tisquantum and a small group of men went ashore in what they now call Northern Massachusetts. They found a village.

Captain Dermer: Shout if you see anyone. And keep your muskets at the ready!

Crew members: Aye, sir, yes, sir.

Captain Dermer: What do you make of it, Tisquantum?

Squanto: It is an empty village.

Captain Dermer: Yes, I can see that, but why?

Squanto: Possibly they have hidden from fear or they are about to attack.

Captain Dermer: Oh, good. What is that awful smell?

First Mate: Captain! Captain! Come quickly!

Captain Dermer: What is it, Mr. McFie?

First Mate McFie: Oh, it’s the plague, sir, the plague, Captain.

Captain Dermer: What?

First Mate: Near the edge of the forest … bodies by the score piled up.

Captain Dermer: Are you sure it’s the plague? They weren’t attacked?

First Mate: No wounds, no weapons. It’s the plague all right. I know the look. The survivors must’ve created a funeral pyre and taken off.

Captain Dermer: Merciful heavens, get the men back to the boat, and hurry!

First Mate: Aye-aye, Captain. Back to the ship! Everyone, come on, back to the ship … away!

Squanto: Captain, may we proceed directly to Cape Cod now?

Captain Dermer: This may be the only incident. Don’t be unduly alarmed or imagine the worst.

Squanto: May we go?

Captain Dermer: Of course.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Captain Dermer steered his ship further south. The land taunted Tisquantum. His heart raced wildly as he drew closer and closer to the home he had not seen in over five years. But the absence of people, of the smoke from village fires, of any signs of life worried him. The Captain, our brother and a group of men took a small boat and reached what they now call Cape Cod. Tisquantum threw himself into the waves and ran ashore. He cried out in the language of his people.

Squanto: Hello?! Is there anyone here? Hello?!

Massasoit (Narrating): He ran along the old pathways, now overgrown and unused. It was as if the forest itself had taken back any sign that his people had ever existed.

Squanto: Hello?! It is Tisquantum! I’ve come home! Mother! Father! Patowak!

Massasoit (Narrating): Stumbling, falling, running as a wild animal, Tisquantum came to the edge of his village. His heart longed to be greeted by his brother and sister, to be embraced by his mother, to tell his story to his father around the great fire. He was met by a cold silence. The village was deserted. The mud huts and wigwams had caved in. On the opposite side of the village, he found the remains. Enough bones for his entire tribe. Their lives had been taken away, perhaps stolen by the white man, just as Tisquantum had been stolen years before. He fell to his knees and prayed to God, any god, to take him to his people in death.

Squanto: (Cries out long and hard)

(Music Bridge)

First Mate McFie: Here comes the Indian, sir.

Captain Dermer: What?

First Mate McFie: There, sir.

Captain Dermer: Tisquantum! We lost you. Did you find your village? Are they … oh.

Squanto: They’re all dead.

Captain Dermer: Oh, are you sure? Maybe they moved inland. Maybe there were survivors. Don’t give up hope too quickly.

Squanto: They are dead. My tribe is no more I am certain of it.

Captain Dermer: Then may God have mercy.

Squanto: You and I will travel west for two days to the Pokanoket tribe. If they and their Sachem …

Captain Dermer: Say-chem?

Squanto: Chief. If they and their Chief, Massasoit, are still alive, we will speak to them of the Company’s desire to trade. Of course, if they are still alive, they may kill us.

Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum led Captain Dermer further and further into the forest. Captain Dermer tried to make conversation, but Tisquantum would not speak. When night fell, they stopped, weary from their journey. They set up a camp where they ate a rabbit, caught and cooked by Tisquantum.

Captain Dermer: Thank you, Tisquantum, for an excellent meal. (Clearing his throat) Will you not speak to me, sir? You’ve not said a word to me since we left. Well, not that I blame you. Any white man must be a terrible offense to you now. Let me speak honestly to you, Tisquantum. I am deeply sorry for what has happened to your tribe. I can plead only ignorance on behalf of my people. We don’t understand the diseases that kill us, nor would we have thought that our diseases would spread with such fury among your people.

Squanto: It is your God.

Captain Dermer: I beg your pardon?

Squanto: Your God is more powerful than the gods of the Indians. He is killing us so that you can have this land.

Captain Dermer: No! I don’t believe that and you mustn’t either.

Squanto: Your God sends men to make us slaves and when we are not your slaves, then He kills us. His hand is a fist that wishes to crush us.

Captain Dermer: Good heavens, Tisquantum, it isn’t true. It isn’t like that at all.

Squanto: No? Then tell me why your God allows men like Captain Hunt to make me a slave. Tell me why your God allows your people to bring disease to wipe out my people.

Captain Dermer: I don’t know how to answer that. I truly don’t, except that our God is not in Captain Hunt’s actions or in the disease that we spread. He is in … he is in the priest who saved you from slavery. You told me about that. You first saw the love of our God in the monastery. And He is in Mr. Slany, who is a fine Christian man. He worked hard to get you home.

Squanto: I served his purpose.

Captain Dermer: That you did, but Mr. Slany didn’t have to promise you your freedom. He could’ve easily told me to keep you chained up, but he didn’t. He promised to get you home because he is a kind and a decent Christian. That is our God, not this god of sickness and death.

Squanto: I wish I could believe you.

Captain Dermer: I wish you could, too. You know, if I were in your position, I might feel the same way that you do. But I’m not. So, all I can say is, I’m sorry. On behalf of all of us, I am sorry. And I hope that one day, you can forgive us. (Sound of shouting Indians)

Massasoit (Narrating): Suddenly Tisquantum and Captain Dermer were surrounded by Pokanoket braves, led by a warrior named Epinow. Their weapons were aimed at Tisquantum’s and Captain Dermer’s hearts. Epinow spoke in clear English.

Epinow: Don’t move or we will kill you! Do you understand my English? We will kill you!

(Music Bridge)


John: This is a special presentation of The Legend of Squanto, brought to you by our Focus on the Family Radio Theatre team. And I had to break in here at this point, but we’re out of time for today’s presentation.

And I’m gonna invite you back next time for the conclusion of the story and suggest that you get a copy of the 2-CD set, The Legend of Squanto, so you can listen to it and maybe make it a family tradition at this time of year. It’s one of those special holiday moments that we’d love for you to have for generations to come.

And on this Thanksgiving holiday, let me just say thank you for your support of Focus on the Family. You join with us to reach families worldwide and we’re so grateful for your generosity. And today, when you make a donation of any amount to Focus on the Family, we’d like to send this 2-CD set, The Legend of Squanto to you as our way of saying thanks. And you can donate at or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening in. I’m John Fuller and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.

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