Squanto and other Native Americans are a fixture of popular depictions of what has retroactively been termed the First Thanksgiving, such as in the fanciful, inaccurate 1914 painting pictured below, by Jennie Brownscombe. That popular image, reproduced so much in elementary school pageants and dioramas, is pat and unsophisticated. The actual story of Tisquantum (of which “Squanto” is an abbreviation) is much more complex. It is a story of slavery, travel, exploration, tragedy, and politics, all of which lurk behind and complicate the standard picture of the first Thanksgiving.
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