“The graveyard of [Tisquantum’s] people became Plymouth Colony.”

Massasoit, a local Wampanoag leader, didn’t trust Tisquantum. “He looks at this guy and smells trouble,” Mann said. Massasoit kept Tisquantum under what was essentially house arrest until the Pilgrims showed up and promptly started starving to death.

Patuxet wasn’t the only native village decimated by the plague. The entire Wampanoag confederation had been badly hit — as much as 75 percent of the Wampanoag population was wiped out, Mann said. But the Narragansett, a rival neighboring group, basically weren’t affected by the disease at all. That put the Wampanoag in a precarious strategic position. Massasoit had an idea.

“He decides we’ll ally with these guys, set up a good trading relationship, control supply of English goods, and the Narragansett won’t be able to attack us,” Mann said.

On March 22, 1621, Massasoit went to meet with the Pilgrims. He brought Tisquantum along to translate.