Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims

We just finished one of our few non-fiction books ... a biography.   I loved being able to teach the girls about a new genre of literature.  This was also educational for me, as I did not know this story.  I wish we had read it in November though, right before Thanksgiving.
Clyde Robert Bulla has written a very readable story about a Native American at the time the Pilgrims came.  The book did a great job of explaining how there were two different worlds which collided: the Native Americans and the Pilgrims.  We were able to discuss the idea of "culture clash" some.  At one point one of the Pilgrims used the term "savage," which led to a great discussion with my girls.

Squanto ends up leaving his village and traveling to London with the white men.  He ends up being the star attraction in an "Indian Show," wherein people actually pay to gawk at the Native American.  Again, this was great fodder for an ethics debate with my kids.

After a few years, Squanto returns to America.  On the way to his village, he is kidnapped, stowed away in a ship and sold into slavery.  The girls had never heard of slavery before and were mortified. 

At the slave market, Squanto is actually purchased by some brothers at a monastery.  So, he goes to live in a Spanish monastery for a few years (lots of geography lessons here).  He eventually returns to America and seeks his home village of Patuxet (in modern day Massachusetts).

Sadly, his entire family and village have perished due to diseases brought by the white men.  Although this is a tragic event, the book is not sad.  We did talk about plagues and widespread disease.  This tied in well to the recent field trip we went on to the CDC Museum.

Unable to reunite with his village, Squanto goes to live with the Pilgrims and acts as a liaison between them and the Native Americans. 

The girls loved this book.  It really brought to life the world of the Native Americans.  A few days after we read this, Catherine looked at our history timeline and pointed to the Native American section.  She asked me if that was when Squanto lived.  I was thrilled that she is starting to piece together history.

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