Polemics & Exchanges

Feeling Squanto's Pain

Would you please edit Tom Landess (“Communities and Strangers,” Views, December 2011) for historical accuracy?  Such a serious libel of anyone, even a dead man, distracts me from the argument.

Squanto could not have betrayed his original tribe even if he had wanted to; they were already extinct when he finally got back from England.  Treason is a serious accusation and should not be made frivolously.

Should Squanto have disowned his new tribe, who depended on him for their survival?  That treason has no visible benefit to him.  Can we, living four centuries later, understand his problems well enough to be sure his decision not to become a total orphan was clearly wrong?  He thought in categories we do not recognize, and we think in categories he could not have imagined.

He used his new tribe to claim his birthright.  I would have done the same.  He cannot be expected to have foreseen consequences caused by, among other factors, the technological differences between the locals and his new tribe.

—Rachel Rempel

Newberg, OR

Dr. Landess Replies:

I can’t believe anyone could take literally or seriously what I wrote about that Indian.  The tone...

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