Hear from Native historians about epidemics that devastated the Northeast coast before the Mayflower arrived, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. In 1616, devastating diseases carried by European fishermen and traders swept down the Maine coast into Massachusetts. In some affected Native communities, between 50 and 90 percent of the population died. Tisquantum, a Wampanoag man kidnapped from the village of Patuxet in 1614, returned five years later to find it empty. The few survivors lived in other communities. When the Pilgrims arrived, they judged Patuxet’s desolation to be “God’s providence” and settled there.
Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.
See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.
Find out more at the program's website.