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Almost nothing is known of Squanto's life before his first contact with Europeans, and even when and how that first encounter took place is subject to contradictory assertions."[T]he time and circumstances of Squanto's birth are unknown." But given that first-hand descriptions of him written between 16 do not remark on his youth or old age, it has been suggested that a reasonable presumption is that he was in his twenties or thirties when he was forcibly embarked to Spain in 1614, The interrelated societies that lived in southern New England at the time of English settlement attempts at the beginning of the 17th century referred to themselves as Ninnimissinuok, a variation of the Narragansett word Ninnimissinnȗwock, meaning roughly "people" and signifying "familiarity and shared identity." Since the Patuxet had been decimated by disease before European settlement (see below), there are no written records of Patuxet life by first-hand observers.Bradford wrote that his death was a "great loss." Considerable mythology and legend has grown up around Squanto over time, largely because of early praise by Bradford and owing to the central role that the "Thanksgiving" festival of 1621 plays in American folk history.Less the "noble savage" that later myth portrayed him and more a shrewd, practical advisor and dependable, loyal diplomat, Squanto played a crucial role in the survival of the English settlers during their first two years, when they were ill-prepared to cope with the physical and social world they had come to colonize.Just as Squanto and a group of settlers had launched their boat to trade for more corn, an alarm arose in Plymouth that the colony was under attack.Squanto was accused of fomenting hostilities between the Pokanoket and the English, allegations that were believed by both the sachem of the Pokanoket and the governor of Plymouth.
During that voyage Squanto contracted what the governor called an "Indian fever." Despite their urgent need for food for the colony, Bradford stayed with Squanto for several days until he died.Sachems acquired their positions by selection from a hereditary group (perhaps matrilineal).The polity of the sachem was called a sontimooonk or sachemship.Maize and other cultivated vegetables made up a substantial part of the Ninnimissinuok diet.
William Wood noted in his 1634 report that "to speake paradoxically, they be great eaters, and yet little meate-men …" Stanford nutritionist M. Bennett concluded that 60% of their daily caloric intake came from grain products and only 10% from animal or bird flesh (as opposed to more than 20% in the average diet in mid-20th-century America).
He accompanied the settlers on a variety of missions to surrounding Natives as a result of which the English settlers created a peace and trade regime that ensured their security against attack and gave them the opportunity to obtain food supplement when their own supplies became insufficient, which became the case as more unprovisioned settlers were sent by their London commercial underwriters.