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Squanto was the last of the tribe, and he acted as a translator, guide, and advisor while he lived with the Pilgrims for 20 months.He showed them how to sow and fertilize native crops, and this proved to be a boon when the seeds brought largely failed which had been brought from England.He played a crucial role in the survival of the Pilgrims during their first two years, when they were struggling to survive in the new world which they had come to colonize.Even the two Mayflower settlers who dealt with him most closely spelled his name differently: William Bradford nicknamed him "Squanto" while Edward Winslow invariably referred to him by what historians believe is his proper name, Tisquantum.The polity of the sachem was called a sontimooonk or sachemship.The members of this polity were those who pledged to defend not only the sachem himself by the institution of the sachemship itself.Mortality rates eventually rose to 90% throughout the entire continent.
His chief fame resulted from his efforts to bring about peaceable relations between the settlers who had come aboard the Mayflower and the Pokanokets.Second, more gradual but equally profound for the economic and social conditions of the Natives, the trading system engaged in at first by the Newfoundland fishermen, and later, more systematically by the French and English, called, for short, the "Fur Trade," destroyed the previously existing continental intertribal pattern of exchange in which the Natives traded local products in a system of extensive and peaceful commerce.That system was replaced by an economy driven by the demand of the Europeans for one product (animal pelts).During that voyage, he contracted what Bradford called an "Indian fever." Despite their urgent need for food for the colony, Bradford stayed with him for several days until he died, which Bradford described as 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.Squanto was less the "noble savage" that later myth portrayed him and more a shrewd, practical advisor and a dependable, loyal diplomat.
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He played a key role in the early meetings in March 1621, partly because he spoke English, but he soon became attached to the settlers whom he assisted in planting vegetables and obtaining trade with local native tribes, even endangering his own safety in the process.