About the pomo tribe

Written by ashley black
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About the pomo tribe
The Pomo Indians were hunters and gatherers; acorns made up a large part of their diet. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The Pomo Native American tribe has a rich history and a continuing future. The Pomo tribe is alive and thriving today, though its numbers are small and the tribe mostly lives in cities. The indigenous tribe has lived in northern California for hundreds of years, developing a distinctive culture with its own traditions, customs and way of life.

Location and Language

The Pomo is a tribe of Native Americans indigenous to northern California. The modern Pomo tribe is actually a collection of seven major indigenous tribes associated with each other by location and language. Each of the seven Pomo tribes spoke a distinct language. The languages of the Pomo Indians were mutually unintelligible, which means that speakers of one tribe's language could not easily understand and communicate with individuals from another tribe.

Food and Clothing

The indigenous Pomo Indians were hunters and gatherers. They ate fish, shellfish, water fowl, deer, elk, sea lions, rabbits and other small game, berries, roots, nuts, seeds and acorns. Pomo Indians decorated themselves with necklaces made of shells, stones and beads. Underneath their decorations, Pomo men typically did not wear formal clothing. Women wore short, thick kilts or deerskin skirts. In the winter, the Pomo people kept warm wearing robes made of rabbit fur.


Pomo society was patriarchal. The male head of each family, which often consisted of multiple generations as well as dependent relatives, was the chief. Of all the chiefs in a Pomo community, one was named principal chief. Several families shared a single, large house made of bark; each family had its own fireplace and entrance door.


Pomo Indians are renowned for their superior basket-weaving skills. Pomo weavers gather indigenous materials like willow roots and sedge grasses for their baskets. They use a variety of complex, intricate techniques to create a stunning finished product. Their baskets are on display in museums around the world.

Religion and Mythology

The Pomo tribes were shamanistic, which means they believed in and communicated with a spiritual world beside the natural world. They hosted various ceremonies, including costumed dances, mourning rites and rites of passage at puberty. The Pomo people also developed an extensive mythology, particularly relating to creation and spirits. The coyote was especially sacred to them, as they considered it their ancestor and creator.

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