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Squanto: A Thanksgiving Drama (Part 2 of 2)

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Squanto: A Thanksgiving Drama (Part 2 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 2 of 2)

Original Air Date: November 26, 2004

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Episode Summary

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 2 of 2)

Original Air Date: November 26, 2004

Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Happy Thanksgiving from Focus on the Family and our radio program today is hosted by Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, this is one of my favorite days of the entire year, a chance to overeat. That’s always (Laughter) fun.

John: Just a little bit.

Jim: Perhaps watch a little football. pol John: There’s a lot of it.

Jim: And time with the family. Yeah, I should reorder those, shouldn’t I?

John: No, that … that all … it’s all a package deal.

Jim: Well, listen, it is another tradition that we’ve started here and that is to listen to the radio drama you’re about to hear. It’s a gripping story about The Legend of Squanto and the team, I think and maybe I’m a bit prejudiced here, but the team did such a great job dramatizing the story of Squanto.

John: Yeah, the team you’re referring to, the creative folks in our Radio Theatre department, they have assembled some great productions over the years and this is, indeed, a Fuller family tradition to listen to this one. Uh … it’s a story that is true. You may now have heard it though from this perspective. And there are a lot of details that probably will be new to you.

Jim: That’s right, John. Let me give some context. It’s set in the early 1600s and I’m sure a lot of people think they know the story of Squanto, but there’s so much more that many of us haven’t heard, including me. Settlers come to the New World. They call it New England and there’s a Native America named Tisquantum, who will later become known as Squanto. And it’s about his ordeal and how he returns to his village to find everyone wiped out by disease. And he’s taken captive and is working on a ship and the captain, Thomas Dermer, promises his freedom once he fulfills his obligations as a translator. Uh … at this moment in the story, both of them are being held captive by the Indians in that area, again the Pokanokets and they’re awaiting word about their fate.

John: If you missed any of that presentation, it really does set the stage for today’s program. And I’ll encourage you to get the full 2-CD set of The Legend of Squanto when you’re at

Let’s go ahead and pick up the story now where we left off for today’s special Thanksgiving presentation on “Focus on the Family.”


Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum and Captain Dermer were captured and brought to me at my village of Namasket. Epinow knew not to do any harm to his prisoners until I, Wawmegin, Yellow Feather, Sachem, the great Chief of the Pokanokets and of the federation of the Wampanoag, the one called Massasoit, saw them and rendered judgment about their lives.

(Sound of shoving of prisoners)

Epinow: Here they are, great Sachem. This one is called Captain Dermer and this one says he is Tisquantum, of the Pawtuxet tribe.

Massasoit: You do not believe him, Epinow?

Epinow: Look at how he is dressed. If he was once Tisquantum of the Pawtuxets, he is no more. He is an Englishman.

Massasoit: Will you speak to me in your native tongue, Tisquantum?

Squanto: Humbly I will speak to you, great Sachem, for I am Tisquantum.

Massasoit: How is it that you come to us now? Prove yourself by telling your story.

Squanto: I was kidnapped by an evil English sea captain and intended for slavery in a faraway country called Spain. I was rescued by a priest of their God. Then I went to England, the great island which sends so many ships to our land, where I learned their language, dressed in their clothes and promised to be their tongue for you, great Sachem.

Massasoit: You promised to be their tongue, to help them, after they have tried to make you a slave?

Squanto: I have said so in exchange for my freedom.

Massasoit: You have your freedom now, my son. It is my will. Your promise to them is no longer to be fulfilled. Welcome to your home.

Squanto: Thank you, great Sachem. However, I feel as if I have no home now. My people, I think are dead.

Massasoit: They are, my son, killed by a terrible spirit brought to us by the white man. Our people grieve with you, as we did when death came to your people only three seasons ago.

Squanto: Only three seasons? It is as if I missed them by a single day.

Massasoit: And you would have died with them had you been here.

Squanto: I wish I had.

Massasoit: But you have not and so you are alive to fulfill other purposes. What is your desire for this white man, Epinow?

Epinow: To kill him, great Sachem.

Squanto: Kill him?!

Epinow: I was also captured by the English, Tisquantum and they made me a slave. They beat me and tortured me. It was only by the power of the Great Spirit that I escaped and returned to my people. Now I am sworn to avenge myself and all those who were captured by the white men.

Massasoit: Do with him as you wish.

Epinow: Come with me–

Squanto: Great Sachem!

Epinow: –English slave trader.

Captain Dermer: What is happening here? Tisquantum?

Squanto: Wait, please! Great Sachem, hear me.

Massasoit: Wait, Epinow. Speak, Tisquantum.

Squanto: I humbly ask that you do not kill this man.

Epinow: No, great Sachem! Do not listen to this English Indian.

Massasoit: Silence, Epinow. Go on, Tisquantum. How is it that you, who have been so mistreated by the English, now seek to spare this one’s life? Are you infected by them?

Squanto: No, Great Chief. But Captain Dermer is not like the other evil captains who enslave our people. They are not all the same, just as our tribes and our people are not all the same.

Massasoit: I am unconvinced, my son. Your judgment is clouded. You have been with them too long.

Squanto: Yes, it is true that I have been with them a long time, great Sachem. For that reason, I know their evil and their good. This man has been good to me. I humbly ask you to spare his life. Then his people will know that we are not savages, as they think, but that we too, are wise and just and understand the difference between good men and … and evil men.

Massasoit: Hm? Now you speak persuasively.

Epinow: Great Sachem, do not succumb to his deceit! If we kill this white man, then it will show the others that we are not weak or cowardly.

Squanto: Weakness and cowardice are not always removed by death, great Massasoit. Sometimes it is the weak and the cowardly who kill. To spare a life is also to show great strength and bravery.

Epinow: He speaks with the twisted tongue of the white man.

Massasoit: No, he speaks wisely, beyond his youth. It may suit our purposes to allow this white man to live, if not for his kindness to Tisquantum, then for our greater good as a nation. Do not harm him, Epinow. Take him, feed him and restrain him until I finish speaking with Tisquantum.

Epinow: (Angrily) Yes, great Sachem. Well, Captain, your life is spared. Stop your quivering legs and walk with me.

Captain Dermer: Tisquantum?

Squanto: You are safe, Captain.

Epinow: Move, paleface.

Captain Dermer: Thank you. Thank you, Tisquantum!

Squanto: I am grateful, Massasoit.

Massasoit: Get rid of those white man’s clothes. I have many serious matters to discuss with you.

(Music Bridge)

Squanto: Captain Dermer?

Captain Dermer: Oh, Tisquantum, thank God.

Squanto: They still have you bound? I will untie you.

Captain Dermer: Oh, oh, I am grateful. My hands and feet are numb. You have saved my life. I don’t know how to thank you.

Squanto: In some ways you have saved my life, Captain. Shall we say we are even?

Captain Dermer: You can if you want to, but I will forever be in your debt. What happens now?

Squanto: Massasoit confessed to me that he is greatly worried by the more powerful tribes to the West–the Narragansetts, in particular. It is his belief that, if he must choose, that he should become friends with the more powerful white men in order to grow more strong against the other tribes. He is willing to make treaties and to trade in exchange for some of your weaponry and knowledge.

Captain Dermer: Huh … so, politicians work the same way in all countries.

Squanto: Massasoit is no fool. He sees the future and it tells him that the white men will continue to come in greater numbers. Now is the time to make friends. He also believes that a treaty is the best way to stop the enslavement.

Captain Dermer: Oh, he is a wise man. And what, pray tell, are you going to do once you’ve returned me to my ship?

Squanto: I will stay here, grieve for my dead and await your return.

Captain Dermer: And then?

Squanto: Massasoit has asked me to be his tongue for the white man and the white man’s tongue for him.

Captain Dermer: You are willing to do that? Can you forgive the white man enough to take his part fairly and honestly?

Squanto: I do not know the answer to that question. For now, I have no choice. I am a man who belongs to no tribe. Am I an Indian? No. The English took care of that. Am I an Englishman? No. I am all that is left of a dead people. What can I be but a tongue for others with no tongue of my own? I am cursed.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum took Captain Dermer to his ship and to his men. Before they parted, Captain Dermer had one final word for his friend.

Captain Dermer: Tisquantum, I have been thinking. Remember you said that you were cursed? Well, I believe that you’re wrong.

Squanto: How so?

Captain Dermer: Have you ever heard the story of Joseph? It’s told in our Bible, our sacred book.

Squanto: I know of it.

Captain Dermer: Well, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. And then years later, he became a leader in a foreign land, and he saved his people from a great famine. Is it possible that God has brought you, like Joseph, out of slavery into a position of authority? See, perhaps your experiences have brought you to this moment, to be of help not only to the Indians, but also to the English. And perhaps it will take you to even greater moments. All in all, I would say that you are not cursed, but you are blessed by our God.

Squanto: I do not feel blessed by yours, or anyone’s god.

Captain Dermer: Give it time, my friend. Give it time. Farewell! God willing, I shall see you again.

Squanto: Farewell, Captain.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum considered Captain Dermer’s words in the deepest places of his heart. He did not know it was the last time he would ever see this white man who had become his friend.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Though my people tried to make Tisquantum feel as if he was one of us, he was always distant and stayed alone. His thoughts were secret. He would not take any of our women as a wife. I knew he missed the English and their ways. I knew this to be true by the way he behaved when, one day another Indian came to our village. His name was Samoset and he, too, was dressed as an Englishman.

Massasoit: Speak and I will listen.

Samoset: I am Samoset of the Pemaquids, part of the Abnaki confederacy.

Massasoit: Why are you here, brother and how is it that you are dressed as an Englishman?

Samoset: I have served my people by learning the ways of the English, so that I might speak with them and negotiate treaties with their traders. I have come to be of the same service to you, great Sachem.

Squanto: Your services are not needed here, Samoset. I am fully …

Massasoit: Hold your tongue, Tisquantum. It is for me to decide whether or not I will need what Samoset offers.

Samoset: I offer only my knowledge.

Squanto: Prove your knowledge. I am certain I can surpass anything you claim to know.

Samoset: I know that an English ship has arrived near the village that once belonged to the Pawtuxet tribe.

Squanto: That is my village!

Samoset: It is no more. The English are even now building a village of their own there. They call it Plymouth.

Massasoit: They are building a village? Then they are not merely traders?

Samoset: They are not, great Sachem. They have brought women and children. They seem determined to live here. Because it is your territory, I thought you would want to know. Obviously no one else knew to tell you.

Massasoit: Hm, it is good to know. Thank you, Samoset. Have you spoken to the English?

Samoset: No, Great Chief. I would not do so until I had your permission to speak on your behalf.

Squanto: I will speak on behalf of Massasoit when the time comes. Great Sachem, I humbly suggest that I leave quickly and …

Massasoit: No, Tisquantum! I do not wish to make ourselves known to these strangers who build their own village. I want for you and Samoset to go. Observe them. Watch and learn. Estimate their strength and discern their intentions.

Squanto: I do not need Samoset’s help.

Massasoit: He has offered it and I accept. You will both go after Samoset has rested.

Samoset: Thank you, great Sachem.

Squanto: Yes, Massasoit.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): It was my will to allow the strangers to see the fullness of our winter before I would approach them for peace. Our winter would show me their strength.

(Music Bridge)

Squanto: Almost one-half of them died in the winter, great Sachem. It was a terrible thing to behold. They do not have the skills to survive.

Massasoit: That means there are less of them to threaten us.

Squanto: I have watched them, Massasoit. They are not a threat.

Massasoit: Samoset says that you are impatient to help them.

Squanto: I am. They will die otherwise.

Massasoit: Why are you so interested in helping those who made you a slave?

Squanto: One man made me a slave. They are not all like him.

Massasoit: They killed your people with their strange illnesses.

Squanto: They did not know what they were bringing to us.

Massasoit: Have you forgiven them for what they have done to you?

Squanto: Yes.

Massasoit: It is spring now. Those who have survived the winter are those who are strongest. We will talk to them.

Squanto: Then may I approach their leaders?

Massasoit: No, I will send Samoset.

Squanto: Massasoit!

Massasoit: I will send him ahead to speak with them. You and I will follow once he has shown that they truly are peaceful people.

Squanto: Samoset does not speak English as well as I do.

Massasoit: He also does not love the English as you seem to. He will have a clearer mind to discern their intentions. I will hear no arguments about it.

Squanto: Yes, Massasoit, as you say.

Massasoit: Go. Give Samoset my instructions. Then we will see about these … what did you say they call themselves?

Squanto: Pilgrims.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Samoset stayed an entire night with the Pilgrims. When he left them, he knew that they were not warlike or a threat to any of the neighboring tribes. We decided to make a peace treaty with them. I dressed up in my finest Sachem robes, surrounded myself with my strongest warriors and went with Tisquantum to formally greet the English. Tisquantum’s face betrayed no emotion, but I knew that his heart was full. The English Pilgrims gave me gifts and I, in turn, presented them with tokens of our trust. Though they had little food, they offered us a meal. Then we sat down together to make a peace treaty. It was a good day.

(Music Bridge)

Governor Carver: Massasoit, it has been a pleasure to meet you. God’s blessings on your journey home. And Tisquanto, we are grateful for your help in translating the words of your chief. You are a Godsend. Imagine our finding an Indian who speaks English as well as you do.

Squanto: Thank you, Governor. It is Tisquantum, by the way, not Tisquanto.

Governor Carver: What did you say? Squanto?

Squanto: No, Governor. I … I said Tisquantum.

Governor Carver: Then God bless you, Squanto; God bless you all.

Massasoit: (Chuckling) Come, Squanto. We have a long journey home.

Squanto: Massasoit?

Massasoit: Hm?

Squanto: With great respect, I ask your permission to stay.

Massasoit: I am not staying here.

Squanto: No, not you, Great Sachem. I would like to stay.

Massasoit: Have they asked you to stay?

Squanto: They need my help. I can show them ways to fish, to farm, to survive the next winter.

Massasoit: Hm … I understand. Samoset!

Samoset: Yes, Massasoit?

Massasoit: Bring me the box.

Samoset: Yes, sir.

Squanto: The box?

Massasoit: My son, I have seen a spark in your eye which I have not seen since you saved Captain Dermer from Epinow’s vengeance. Your affection and care for the English are undisguised.

Samoset: Here is the box, Great Sachem.

Massasoit: Open it, Tisquantum.

Squanto: But I don’t understand. What is … my clothes? You have kept my English clothes?

Massasoit: (Chuckling) I have not become a great chief by being blind to the hearts of men. Yours is a divided heart, my son. You have served me well as an Indian while your heart reached out to the English. Now you may serve the English and perhaps your heart will be fulfilled.

Squanto: Thank you, Massasoit.

Massasoit: Wear your clothes again, Squanto and may your heart finally be united.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): When Governor Carver was called to his God, William Bradford was made their new chief. He treated Squanto like a close brother. The two of them often walked the countryside together. Squanto worked hard in the fields and with the fishing and on the many occasions when other Indians came to visit, served as their tongue to the English and the same back again. He brought peace between them and, in turn, felt peace in his own heart.

(Music Bridge)

Reverend Brewster: Squanto, may I have a word with you?

Squanto: Yes, Rev. Brewster.

Rev. Brewster: You’ve become, well, part of our community, part of our family, I dare say. The rest of the elders and I have discussed it at length and we were wondering about your faith.

Squanto: My faith?

Rev. Brewster: Um … your beliefs. Has anyone ever shown you the Bible, told you about the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ?

Squanto: Yes, I know of them.

Rev. Brewster: But do you know of them in your heart? Do you know the love of Jesus Christ?

Squanto: Yes, I do. I have seen it in the actions of good Christians like you and your people. Why do you ask?

Rev. Brewster: Well, we want to invite you to worship with us, Squanto. Perhaps you will want to be baptized and embrace the holy discipline of prayer and worship and study of the Scripture.

Squanto: I … I would be honored, Rev. Brewster.

Rev. Brewster: Well then, welcome brother!

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Our brother Squanto had found his home. Not only in the land he tilled or the people he helped, but in his heart where his restlessness became a distant memory. The winter passed, but it was not so cruel to the Pilgrims as the first had been. Squanto’s help gave them food to store and the means to stay warm through the long, cold days and nights. Then came another season of planting, followed by the season of harvest. The Pilgrims’ bounty was so great that they believed their God had finally given His blessing upon their tribe and he had done it through Squanto.

(Music Bridge)

Squanto: Yes, Governor Bradford. You wished to see me?

Governor Bradford: Ah, Squanto. We would like for you to take a message to Massasoit.

Squanto: Yes, sir. Has something happened?

Governor Bradford: We’ve had a good harvest, thanks be to God. We wish to invite him and anyone he wishes to bring from his tribe to a Harvest Home celebration.

Squanto: Hm? I will have to explain it to him. What is it?

Governor Bradford: In England, when we have had a bountiful harvest, we have a celebration. We have a feast of food and play games and … you look puzzled, my friend.

Squanto: Well, he will want to know what exactly is the purpose of this celebration.

Governor Bradford: To give thanks to God, of course. Do you think Massasoit will accept?

Squanto: Hm … if it includes food and games, then I am certain he will come. I will be honored to ask him.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): (Chuckling) Of course, I accepted Governor Bradford’s invitation to feast with the Pilgrims. I brought with me 90 members of my tribe, along with venison, wild cranberries, watercress, leeks, dried berries and wild plums. The Pilgrims fed us their own dishes made from geese, duck, lobster, clams, corn, green vegetables and dried fruit. Yes, Squanto had taught them well.

(Music Bridge)

Governor Bradford: Almighty God, we thank You for the sustaining grace of Your love and provision through our Savior Jesus Christ. We thank You for the bounty of fellowship, which allows us to share in the food You have given to us. May we receive it with grateful hearts. And may we always remember the assistance of the Indians, whom You have brought to us as friends and helpers. Most particularly, we thank you for Squanto and the knowledge which You gave him to teach us to work and endure.

(Music Bridge).

Massasoit (Narrating): On the third day, Squanto sat at my feet as we watched the children at play. He smiled, but there were tears in his eyes.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit: Tell me the thoughts of your heart, my son.

Squanto: I was thinking. Just as the Pilgrims built a new village on the rubble of my old village, so God builds a new life on the rubble of the old. I lost my home and I have found it again.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Squanto stayed with the Pilgrims and became one of them. The days that came were not always easy. At times, there was trouble and hardship. But they endured, as we all must. One year after the great feast, Squanto went with Governor Bradford on a trading expedition to the north. Squanto fell ill from a mysterious sickness and collapsed. Some days later, he died. They buried him in the Christian manner and Governor Bradford prayed over his unmarked grave.

Governor Bradford: Almighty Father and God of mercy, we give to You now Squanto, our Indian friend and brother. Receive him now, embrace him into that eternal kingdom which You have prepared for all who believe in You. He was a Pilgrim of the heart, Lord God. Grant him peace at last as he journeys home to You.

(Music Bridge)

Massasoit (Narrating): Tisquantum was a brother and friend to many, bringing peace out of hardship, strength out of weakness, wisdom out of folly. Where man intended evil, Tisquantum found good. Where silence threatened brotherhood, Tisquantum became the tongue of friendship. For the sake of all peoples everywhere, we yearn for more men like him.

(Music Bridge)


John: What an exciting “Focus on the Family presentation we’ve had for you today and last time, as well. What a drama about a really memorable time in our nation’s history. And I trust that this has been a delightful broadcast for you to listen to with your family. And I’ll encourage you to get the full-length version of this. We could only present a small portion of the 2-CD set, The Legend of Squanto. And I’ve gotta say, we’ve listened to this time and again in our home and it really is a wonderful tradition during Thanksgiving to pull it out and listen to yet again.

You’ll find The Legend of Squanto at And while you’re there, please consider a generous donation to Focus on the Family. In fact, when you make a donation of any amount today at the website, we’ll make sure to send The Legend of Squanto to you. You’ll have it them in hand for next year. It’s our way of saying thank you for your generous support and our way of putting a good resource into your hands.

Out program was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening and Happy Thanksgiving!

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