In what ways did Samoset help the Pilgrims?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Samoset was the first Native American to make contact with the settlers of the Plymouth Colony, but it should be remembered that this was not the first contact between North American natives and Europeans; there had already been considerable contact between the two groups.

Samoset didn't do much to help the Pilgrims directly, such as by providing food, but he did provide three important gifts.

  • Samoset was knowledgeable and was able to provide the Pilgrims many details about the number and friendliness of the tribes nearby.
  • By being one of the leaders of his tribe, he was able to initiate trade with the Pilgrims, leading to contact with Massasoit and the aid that he rendered which ultimately saved the colony.
  • He introduced the colonists to Squanto, who spoke better English and was more directly responsible for aiding the colonists in matters of agriculture and survival during the winter.
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edcon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Perhaps Samoset's greatest service to the Pilgrims at Plymouth was to assert himself in a friendly manner by coming into their pitiful encampment and greeting them respectfully in English.  He came alone, with an empty quiver and a bow with a single, tipped arrow, which must have been a great relief to the nervous colonists who had seen Indians "skulking" nearby who had stolen their tools. 

In that first meeting, Samoset was able to explain that the area was mostly uninhabited because of a plague four years earlier. He reassured them that the land they were on was unlikely to be a place of contention, but that they needed to watch out for the aggression of the Nauset, who bore grudges against the English for their earlier slave trading.

Much has been written about Samoset's introductions of other helpful natives, such as Massasoit and Squanto, but it is arguable that his ambassadorship was the first positive interaction with Indians that the Plymouth Pilgrims experienced. 

 

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