What Did Squanto Teach the Pilgrims?

One of the most important things Squanto taught the pilgrims was how to cultivate maize, or corn. He also taught the pilgrims how to hunt, fish and how to fertilize crops using the fish.

Squanto was captured along the coast of Maine in 1605. Subsequently, he was taken to England where Ferdinando Gorges taught him how to speak English. Once fluent in English, Squanto returned to his home, only to be captured again and sold into slavery. It would not be until 1621 that he was able to return a second time. This is when he was introduced to the pilgrims at Plymouth.

The first winter the pilgrims experienced was very harsh. However, Squanto taught the pilgrims where to hunt and fish. He also taught them the "three sisters" agricultural technique for cultivation. In this style of agriculture, squash, beans and corn are planted closely together in what would later be called "companion farming."

Each of the three crops benefited from one another. Squash kept weeds out by spreading along the ground, and its leaves also acted as natural mulch. Beans added much needed nitrogen to the soil to help the plants grow, and corn gave the beans a structure to grow on. As a result of Squanto's teachings, the pilgrims were able to survive their first winter and celebrated with a large meal that would form the basis for the Thanksgiving holiday.