Pomo Tribe

California Indians

Picture of California Native Indians by Louis Chloris

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Pomo Native American Indian Tribe of the California cultural group.

The Pomo Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Pomo tribe were a California tribe of Native American Indians who were hunter gatherers and fishers. They lived in Northern California, from the Pacific Ocean to Clear Lake (modern day Mendocino, Sonoma, & Lake Counties)The Pomo tribe endured cruelty and slavery at the hand of the Spanish, Russian and Mexicans. The Bloody Island Massacre (May 15, 1850) followed involving the US Army and Gold Rush settlers.

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Facts about the Pomo Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Pomo Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Pomo tribe live, what did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Pomo tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Pomo tribe?
The Pomo tribe lived in parts of Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Colusa, and Glenn Counties in California. The word 'Pomo' means "those who live at red earth hole" in reference to their earth lodge pit houses that were built with a red colored earth as the winter homes of the tribe.

Their tribal lands were subject to various incursions by the Russians, Spanish, Mexican and finally the Americans. The Pomo people were made slaves by many of these invaders and watched as their tribal lands fell to the Russian traders seeking sea otter furs, the Spanish who wanted to convert the tribe to Christianity, the Mexicans who forced the people to work on their farms and finally the Americans who moved west along the California Trail who were joined by the Gold Rush settlers. The Pomo were decimated by the diseases brought by the invaders and those who survived were forced on to various reservations.

What language did the Pomo tribe speak?
"Pomo" was actually seven Pomoan (Hokan) languages, spoken by the Southern, Central, Northern, Eastern, Northeastern, Southeastern Pomo, and Southwestern Pomo (Kashaya).


Where did the Pomo tribe live?
The Pomo are people of the California Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Pomo tribe.

  • Land: Sea, coastal regions, rivers and lakes

  • Climate: Mild temperate climate

  • Natural Resources: Oak trees, acorns, buckeye nuts, mushrooms, hazel nuts, bulbs, roots, grasses and seaweed

  • Types of housing or shelters: Grass Mat Houses, Cedar Bark tepees and flat roofed houses

  • Land animals: The  animals included deer, elk, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, quail, mountain sheep and bear

  • Sea Mammals: Seals, sea lions and sea otters

  • Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and dried locusts were all eaten to supplement the diet

Map showing Native American Indians Cultural Groups


Framework of a Pomo flat-foofed structure

What did the Pomo tribe live in?
The Pomo tribe lived in several different types of shelters dependent on the natural resources that were available in their location. Their homes included Grass Mat Houses where there was access to reeds and rushes to make make mats. Pomo people with easy access to forest areas built shelters known as Cedar Bark Tepees. Other Pomo Indians made a flat-roofed structure that consisted of four upright posts supporting a flat roof with a framework of slanting poles. The framework was covered with brush, sticks or mud. This type of shelter was commonly used for storage, but Pomo people also lived in this style of home. During the winter some of the Pomo people also lived in semi-subterranean California Pit Houses.

What food did the Pomo tribe eat?
The food that the Pomo tribe ate included their staple diet of acorns which they ground into acorn meal to make a type of bread. The abundant species of oak trees on their lands produced seven different kinds of acorns. Fish an important food source, particularly salmon. The Pomo hunted deer (venison), elk, antelope, fowl, and small game such as rabbits and quail. The hunter-gathers collected other foods including buckeye nuts, pepperwood nuts, various greens, roots, bulbs, and berries. Most foods were dried and stored for use during the winter months. Coastal groups of Pomo people hunted for sea mammals and considered dried seaweed a delicacy. California Native Indians made different kinds of earth ovens to cook plants or plants in. The Pomo baked Indian potatoes and buckeyes in earth ovens.

What clothes did the Pomo men wear?
The clothes worn by the Pomo men varied according to the season. During the summer months the men wore a breech cloth or just went naked. In the winter months warm clothing was required and their winter clothing was made from the skins of animals such as deer (buckskin), elk, squirrel, rabbit and wildcats. The Pomo winter clothes included fur robes and cloaks, shirts, wrap-around kilts, mitts and leggings that were often decorated with fringes. They wore one-piece moccasins with a front seam whilst hunting or traveling, but went barefoot in the warmer weather. The headdresses worn for special ceremonies consisted of headbands made from flicker feathers (a flicker was a type of woodpecker) and plumes were added for further decoration.

What clothes did the Pomo women wear?
Women used shredded redwood or cedar bark to make fibers that were hand woven into various items.  The clothes worn by the Pomo women included blouses and aprons that covered the front and back made of shredded bark. Their dresses or skirts fell to calf length and were belted and fringed. Special clothes were strung with ornaments, tassels and porcupine quills. Twined tule slippers, or moccasins, covered their feet in the winter and they wore fur robes to keep out the cold.

What was the religion and beliefs of the Pomo tribe?
The religion and beliefs of the Pomo tribe was based on Animism that encompassed the spiritual idea that the universe and all natural objects animals, plants, trees, rivers, mountains and rocks have souls or spirits. The Kuksu cult was a secret religious society, in which members impersonated a god (kuksu) or gods in order to obtain supernatural power. In the 1870's the Earth Lodge Religion and the Bole-Maru that grew out of the Ghost Dance movement revitalized the tribes in north-central California 

What weapons did the Pomo use?
The weapons by the Pomo people included spears, stone ball clubs, knives and bows and arrows. The sharp points of their weapons and their tools were fashioned from Obsidian.

Pomo History Timeline: What happened to the Pomo tribe?
The following history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the Pomo people. The Pomo timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.  

Pomo History Timeline

  • 1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo explores California and claims the land for Spain

  • 1579: Sir Francis Drake claims California for England and is said to have made contact with the Pomo Native Indians

  • 1812: Pomo Indian lands were invaded by brutal Russian fur-traders, looking for sea otters,  who made a base in Fort Ross on Bodega Bay

  • 1800's:  Hundreds of Pomo people were captured and sold as slaves

  • 1800's: The Spanish had begun raiding Southern Pomo country for converts forcing them to work as slaves in Spanish missions

  • 1817: The San Rafael Mission was founded

  • 1823: The Sonoma Mission was established

  • 1821: Mexico wins its independence from Spain and takes control of California

  • 1833: Pomo people are forced to work as slaves on Mexican ranches

  • 1833: Cholera epidemic kills many Pomo people

  • 1838: Smallpox epidemic (1838-1839) ravages the Pomo tribe

  • 1841: The California Trail opens

  • 1841: The Russians abandon Fort Ross as the fur trade declines

  • 1840: The Clear Lake Massacre occured when a posse led by Mexican Salvador Vallejo massacred 150 Pomo and Wappo Indians on Clear Lake, California

  • 1846: South Emigrant Road aka the Applegate Trail opens

  • 1848: California is passed to the US with the Treaty of Guadalupe

  • 1848: January 24, 1848: Gold is discovered at Sutter's timber Mill starting the California Gold rush

  • 1848: The white settlers and gold prospectors bring various diseases to the Native Indians who lived in the surrounding areas of the westward trails

  • 1850: California was admitted into the Union

  • 1850: Conflicts between the US army and the Pomo result in massacres

  • 1850: The Bloody Island Massacre (May 15, 1850) took place at the north end of Clear Lake, Lake County, California. The Bloody Island Massacre was perpetrated by 1st Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, against the Pomo led by Chief Augustine, in retaliation for the deaths of settlers Andrew Kelsey and Charles Stone. 100 Pomo people were killed

  • 1851: Treaties were agreed reserving lands for the Native Indians of California, but they were never honored.

  • 1850's: Pomo people were rounded up and forced onto the Mendocino Indian Reserve and the Round Valley Reservation

  • 1870: The Bole-Maru and the Earth Lodge Religion were religious revitalization movements of tribes in north-central California that grew out of the Ghost Dance movement. 'Bole' is a Wintun word and 'Maru' is a Pomo word both referring to the dreams of medicine people.

  • 1878: Pomos mounted a project to buy back a land base. A group of Northern Pomo people bought 7 acres in Coyote Valley

  • 1880: Another Northern Pomo group bought 100 acres along Ackerman Creek (now known as Pinoleville)

  • 1881, Yokaya Rancheria was financed by central Pomo people

  • 1906: The 18 treaties of 1851 were “rediscovered” and 54 rancherias were established.

Pomo History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Pomo people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Pomo would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Pomo
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Pomo Native American Indians
  • Pomo Timeline and History

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Pomo Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Pomo nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Pomo tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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