Survival lessons from Squanto and the Pilgrims

Peter Lloyd / Unsplash

As we near the end of November, the excitement and preparations for Thanksgiving are kicking into high gear. Who doesn't enjoy sitting down around the table with loved ones and indulging in turkey, stuffing, gravy and green beans? It's the perfect time to express gratitude, engage in culinary traditions, and share new memories with family and friends alike.

However, beyond gratitude and familial bonding, there's a lot more to be learned from the history behind Thanksgiving. You may be thinking, "I already learned about the Pilgrims, Mayflower and Native Americans in elementary school—why should I revisit this particular lesson in history?"

If you understand the importance of preparedness, the story of Thanksgiving is a great example of what to do (and not do) when it comes to survival lessons in tough conditions. Consider for a moment that most of the Pilgrims, the first settlers of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, were city folk. They showed up in the New World extremely unprepared for what was to come. In fact, due to a brutal winter, disease and a rough crossing of the Atlantic, only half of the Mayflower's102 passengers survived the first winter in the United States.

Squanto, a member of a local indigenous Wampanoag confederation, had previously been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Because he spoke English, he was a key ally for the Pilgrims. If it hadn't been for Native Americans like Squanto imparting lessons for survival in their new land, the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims wouldn't have survived and flourished in the way they did.

As Dick Ropp, the chairman of the French Creek Living History Association puts it, "It's well documented that the first Europeans who settled in the New World could not have made it through the first few winters without the assistance and knowledge of American Indians."

Let's take it back to 1621 and cover four key survival lessons that the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims regarding how to prepare for the winter season, colder temperatures, etc.

#1 Exchanging Resources

An "every man for himself" mindset didn't do Pilgrims much good in those days. Arriving unprepared for the cold winter meant they lacked the resources and knowledge for survival—and the consequences were fatal.

One of the things that Squanto did for the Pilgrims was arrange meetings and broker alliances with surrounding Native American tribes. This allowed the Pilgrims to engage in a trading system with the local tribes, exchanging European-manufactured goods such as guns, metal cooking utensils, and cloth for food and other necessary supplies.

This barter and trade system was beneficial for both sides. The Wampanoags were looking to build up their strength against rival tribes such as the Pequot and Narragansett—and needed the weapons and resources to do so.

#2 Using Multipurpose Items

In addition to sharing resources, the Pilgrims learned to be resourceful and find various uses for the same item. As the story goes, the Pilgrims were originally going to take two boats over to America. But, due to an issue with one of the boats, they had to quickly retrofit the Mayflower for passengers. Unfortunately, this meant they were forced to leave a lot of their cargo and supplies behind.

Because they were limited on supplies upon arrival to America, they were forced to be inventive. For example, they used a printing press to undergird a beam in the Mayflower, when rough seas caused it to crack. And because there weren't initially enough homes built on the land to house everyone through the winter, some families lived aboard the Mayflower while preparing additional houses on the shore.

Their houses on the shore were constructed from whatever resources could be found—for example, the wood from trees in surrounding forests.

#3 Planting Life-Sustaining Crops

Many Pilgrims perished during their first winter due to poor nutrition and lack of knowledge of how to grow their own food. The local Native American tribes that had lived in the area for over 10,000 years, such as the Wampanoag and Pokanokets, understood the native crops and knew how to cultivate and harvest them. Once a connection was established with these tribes, the Pilgrims were able to gain important survival lessons when it came to growing crops in the local area. Life-sustaining crops such as corn were commonplace and kept people healthy and strong during the winter months. It's no wonder cornbread has become a staple Thanksgiving feast food!

Pilgrim house-gardens likely included crops such as onions, leeks, sorrel, yarrow, lettuce, carrots, radishes, currants, liverwort, watercress and others. Additionally, the Pilgrims learned how to extract sap from maple trees and gather ground nuts, acorns, walnuts, chestnuts, squashes, beans, fruits and berries.

The Native Americans also taught them what not to eat—such as which plants were poisonous and couldn't be ingested. The Pilgrims probably wished they had some Wild Edible Playing Cards available back then!

Understanding how to plant and harvest your own life-sustaining crops, whether they be in your garden, on your roof (maybe an Urban Garden), or in your house, is a worthwhile survival lesson to begin practicing now.

#4 Hunting and Fishing

Aside from growing produce, the Pilgrims also learned where and how to fish and hunt from the local Native American tribes. Understanding trapping techniques and animal movement patterns is key in knowing how to hunt successfully—and the Native Americans had been doing this for centuries.

According to an account recorded by Pilgrim Edward Winslow, people hunted deer, fowl and wild turkeys—which they stored and served at the first Thanksgiving feast.

They also learned to catch fish such as cod and bass and other seafood such as clams, mussels, lobster and eel. These foods provided important nutrients and nourishment needed to get the Pilgrims through the harsh winter conditions.

Thanks to the lessons in survival from the Native Americans, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock went on to defeat the odds and establish the second successful English colony in the Americas.

Even though you may not be a pilgrim setting out to create a colony, there are certain situations in life that call for the application of these key survival lessons. Taking the time to learn them now will mean the difference between struggling and coasting through difficult times.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This article originally appeared on MyPatriotSupply.com.

A new Pew Research Center report shows the death toll in the United States from COVID-19 is "heavily concentrated" in Democratic congressional districts.

According to the analysis, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occurred in just 44 (approximately 10 percent of) congressional districts, and 41 of those 44 hardest-hit districts are represented by Democrats, while only three are represented by Republicans.

"A new Pew Research Center analysis of data on official reports of COVID-19 deaths, collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, finds that, as of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts," Pew reported.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere argued that, while the coronavirus should never have been made into a partisan issue, the study certainly makes a strong statement in favor of GOP leadership.

Watch the video below:


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) once predicted the coronavirus death rate would be between 4 and 5 percent, but they've just come out with a new report and those predictions have been adjusted significantly.

According to the CDC's latest data, the fatality rate among Americans showing COVID-19 symptoms is 0.4 percent. And an estimated 35 percent who are infected by the virus will never have any symptoms. Therefore, the CDC is now estimating COVID-19 kills less than 0.3 percent of people infected.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere recalled when the mainstream media went into overdrive, hammering President Donald Trump for predicting the final COVID-19 death rate would be "under one percent."

Looks like the president was right all along.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Michigan barber Karl Manke isn't a troublemaker. He's a law-abiding citizen who did everything possible to financially survive during the COVID-19 lockdown. pandemic. Eventually, he had no other option: he had to reopen his business in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home orders.

In an interview on the "Glenn Beck Radio Program," Manke, 77, told Glenn, "I'm not backing down" despite Whitmer's seemingly vindictive attempts to shut down his business.

Shortly after reopening, Manke was ticketed for violating Whitmer's stay-at-home order and charged with a misdemeanor. When he still refused to close his doors, the governor's office went a step further and suspended his barber license.

"It's kind of a vindictive thing," said Manke. "I've become a worm in her brain ... and she is going full force, illegally, when legislatures told her that she was out of place and this was not her assignment, she decided to take it anyway."

On Thursday, the Shiawassee County Circuit Judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction against Manke. Read more on this update here.

Watch the video clip from the interview below:

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Time after time, Americans have taken to the streets to defend our constitutional rights, whether it was our livelihood at stake -- or our lives. But, what was the point of all the civil rights movements that came before, if we're about to let the government take our rights away now?

On his Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck argued that Americans are tired of having our rights trampled by "tyrannical" leaders from state and local governments who are ignoring our unalienable rights during this pandemic.

"Our nanny state has gone too far. The men and women in office -- the ones closest to our communities, our towns, our cities -- are now taking advantage of our fear," Glenn said. "Like our brothers and sisters of the past, we need to start making the decisions that will put our destiny, and our children's destiny, back into our hands."

It took less than two months of the coronavirus tyranny to make America unrecognizable, but some Americans are fighting back, risking losing their jobs and businesses or even jail time, as they battle to take back our civil rights.

Here are just a few of their stories:

After New Jersey's Atilis Gym reopened in defiance of the governor's executive order, the Department of Health shut them down for "posing a threat to the public health." Co-owner Ian Smith says somebody sabotaged the gym's toilets with enire rolls of paper to create the public health "threat."

Oregon Salon owner, Lindsey Graham, was fined $14 thousand for reopening. She said she was visited by numerous government organizations, including Child Protective Services, in what she believes are bullying tactics straight from the governor's office.

77-year-old Michigan barber, Karl Manke, refused to close his shop even when facing arrest. "I couldn't go another 30 days without an income," he said. But when local police refused to arrest him, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) office suspending his business license instead.

Port of Seattle police officer Greg Anderson was suspended after he spoke out against enforcing what he called "tyrannical orders" imposed amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Kentucky mother-of-seven, Mary Sabbatino, found herself under investigation for alleged child abuse after breaking social distancing rules at a bank. After a social worker from child protective services determined there was no sign of abuse, he still sought to investigate why the Sabbatino's are homeschooling, and how they can give "adequate attention to that many children."

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail after she defied the state-mandated stay-at-home orders to reopen her business.

Watch the video clip from Glenn's special below:


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