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One of the last surviving people of the Patuxet tribe—who had lived on the western coast of Cape Cod Bay and were annihilated by an epidemic infection—he acted as a translator, guide, and advisor while he lived with them for 20 months.
He showed them how to sow and fertilize native crops, a boon when it turned out that the crop from the seeds they brought largely failed, and introduced them to the fur trade, an important means by which they could reduce their indebtedness to their London financial backers.
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.
No records exist of his activities from that time until his famous encounter with the Mayflower settlement in 1621.
Squanto's chief fame resulted from his efforts to bring about peaceable contact and alliance between the English Separatists and other colonists who had come aboard the Mayflower and the Pokanoket.
The name may suggest, for example, that he underwent special spiritual and military training (as a pniesesock, or otherwise), and for this reason was selected for his role as liaison with the English settlers in 1620 (see below).
Or perhaps the name was selected at the time of his 1621 encounter with the English settlers either as a defense to their cultural or religious influence or because he was entering a cultural no-mans-land.