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He eventually was sent there, where he met an associate of John Smith, Thomas Dermer, who was acting for the London merchants involved in settling New England.In 1619 Dermer brought Squanto to his native village, which he found to be destroyed by an epidemic.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.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.Socially the groups that made up the Ninnimissinuok were hierarchically stratified and presided over by one (or sometimes two) sachem (ordinarily a male but women could act as sachems when male heirs were absent).
Six years before the Mayflower landing, in 1614 Squanto was abducted by an English adventurer, Thomas Hunt, who came to Patuxet as part of a commercial fishing and trading venture commanded by Captain John Smith.Jealousy grew between Squanto and Hobomock, another Pokanoket living with the settlers.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."[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.In such a case reasonable conclusions about a culture's organization and beliefs may be made by reference to other tribes in the same area "which may be expected to share cultural traits." In this case the Southern New England tribes were closely related linguistically (through similar Algonquin languages), politically (by the Pokanoket suzerainty), economically (by trade) and ethnically.