Squanto & The Green Corn Massacre: A Thanksgiving Reexamination

Thanksgiving is synonymous with turkey, good cheer, and family gatherings.

Although COVID-19 has largely squashed the gathering part, Thanksgiving still rolls on in America.

2020 has taught us all to embrace truth and uphold facts. Fake news has been a buzzword but rarely is the term used appropriately.

However, it must be noted that Thanksgiving has roots in despair, forced colonization, slavery, and genocide.

It all started with Squanto.


Squanto, also known as Tisquantum, was a Native American of the Patuxet tribe. He acted as an interpreter and guide to the Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth during their first winter in the “New World”.

Born circa 1580 near Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Squanto is first believed to have been captured as a young man along the Maine coast in 1605 by Captain George Weymouth.

Weymouth had been commissioned by Plymouth Company owner Sir Ferdinando Gorges to explore the coast of Maine and Massachusetts.

He reportedly captured Squanto, along with four Penobscots in an effort to show his financial backers in Britain some Indians.

In England, Squanto lived with Gorges, who taught him English and hired him to be an interpreter and guide.

Now fluent in English, Squanto returned to his homeland in 1614 with English explorer John Smith, the British soldier who was a founder of the American colony of Jamestown in the early 1600s.

Smith has been romanticized heavily due to his “relationship” with Pocahontas. Squanto possibly acted as a guide for Smith.

By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, Squanto.

He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

But the story of Thanksgiving doesn’t stop there.

The Green Corn Massacre

Squanto was captured again by another British explorer, Thomas Hunt, and sold into slavery in Spain.

Squanto escaped, lived with monks for a few years, and eventually returned to North America in 1619.

Word spread in England about the opportunities to be found in the new world. The Puritans, religious zealots, began arriving by the boat load.

They brought with them the notions of English laws and finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain.


Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back.

This led to the Pequot War, one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

In 1637 near present-day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival.

The festival was the progenitor of America’s annual Thanksgiving celebration.

In the predawn hours, the sleeping natives were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.

Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive.

The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

Colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.


Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Even the Wampanoag tribe who had the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims did not escape the genocide. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

It remained on display for 24 years.

As massacres continued, days of thanksgiving feasts were held after each successful one.

However, George Washington suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.

Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War. Ironically, it was on the same day he ordered troops to march against the Santee Sioux to quell the “Minnesota Uprising” in November 1862.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and an exposition of white supremacy as the founding dynamic for the creation of America, the country’s true history must be re-examined. Although, Thanksgiving has taken on a new meaning commercially and as a way to express appreciation, we must remember it true origins.

That way you can truly appreciate life and understand that our celebrations came at a human cost and have been whitewashed for indoctrination.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.