Thanksgiving is upon us, so we look forward to seeing loved ones, to eating good food, and, of course, to giving thanks! However, as most people are busy chatting and chewing, we often overlook the history of the holiday. The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal, leaving their numbers dwindling. Though all the members of the first Thanksgiving struggled greatly, one in particular seemed to have very little to be grateful for… at least, at first.

Tisquantum (“Squanto”) was born in modern-day Massachusetts to parents from the Patuxet tribe. Historians don’t know much about his childhood and young adulthood, but they do know that, at some point, he was captured and enslaved and taken to Spain. There, he was taught the Spanish language and the Christian faith by Spanish monks who were appalled at this slave trade. They let Squanto go free, and he eventually made his way to England, where he learned English and was hired to be a translator and peacemaker between the English explorers and the Native American inhabitants of the New World. Tensions had run high between the groups ever since Squanto and other Patuxet and Nauset tribe members had been kidnaped. However, it seemed his services were no longer needed; the Patuxet and Nauset tribes had both been annihilated by disease. But that did not mean that there was no hope- or purpose- left for Squanto.

Shortly after Squanto returned, he began living with Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe… that’s right: the tribe that would later aid and train the Pilgrims. After the Pilgrims’ first winter was spent on their boat, it was time to begin planting and hunting. Things were not going well until a Native American named Samoset- along with his friend, Squanto– came to the aid of the settlers. 

That November, the Pilgrims’ Governor Bradford invited the Wampanoags to a banquet to celebrate the settlers’ bounty of that year. They celebrated for three days with feasts and games and, of course, thanksgiving to God and the Natives who helped keep them alive. Throughout the years, the settlers continued to celebrate feasts and fasts of thanksgiving, and people all over America did the same, even before Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863.

Though Squanto went through much tragedy in his life, it enabled him to save the lives of many. I think that’s why we’re able to be grateful for both the good and the bad in our lives. Difficult circumstances, with a good TRIBE, can eventually lead to stronger character. 

And, of course, it’s self-explanatory to be grateful for good times! Your friends at Team Perka hope you are feeling blessed this Thanksgiving season. 

After all, we are blessed to partner with you; we are grateful that you’re here. 

At Perka, we have gone through both the good and the bad, and together with “our Tribe” we continue to give thanks! We hope you will join us in being grateful this holiday season.