The Pomo are famous for their fine baskets. Trade. Items traded included salt from the Salt Pomo, and from the coastal groups came shells, magnesite, finished beads, obsidian, tools, basketry materials, skins, and food that one group might have in excess and another need.
That only includes about 1,200 Pomo people in the 1910 census. The Pomo that lived on the coastline, known as the Kashaya interacted primarily with the Russians and mainly traded furs with them. The Russians were the first to exploit the Pomo people.
Traditionally, the Pomo were a comparatively wealthy people, well supplied with food and other natural resources. Fish, waterfowl, deer, acorns, bulb plants, seeds, and other wild foods were plentiful.
The Pomo Indians traditionally lived in what is now northwestern California around the Clear Lake area north of San Francisco, and along the Russian River, in Lake, Mendocino, and Sonoma Counties. Today, there are about 5,000 Pomo living in several rancherias and reservations on or near the places of their origin.
In general, the baskets made by the women are coiled, twined or feathered, and used for cooking and storing food. The women also make the baskets used for religious ceremonies. The men make baskets for fishing weirs, bird traps and baby baskets. Baskets are also used for decorating the lodges.
Currently, many of the Pomo Tribes have small farms and agriculture projects on their lands that could be expanded to provide food security and income for their Tribe. Potter Valley Pomo grow fields of pumpkins, corn, tomatoes and a variety of squash, providing hundreds of pounds of produce for their people.
Thousands of Pomo were captured or died between 1834 and 1847 at the hands of Mexican soldiers. Trade in Native American slaves and epidemics of smallpox and cholera claimed thousands more lives.
According to the 2010 United States Census, there are 10,308 Pomo people in the United States. Of these, 8,578 reside in California.
The Pomo Indians of Northern California have traditionally sung lullabies, as well as hunting and religious songs. For the Cahuilla people of Palm Springs, bird songs tell stories of their origin, journey and return home.
The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria is a Federally Recognized Tribe located in Sonoma County of California.
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.
Sho-Ka-Wah or “east of the river” is the name of the people for themselves in the Central Pomo language. Their main village was named Shanel meaning “of the roundhouse” which had five assembly houses and many leaders or “captains” with a population estimated at 1500 before European contact.
“Pomo women were the main crafters of the baskets. Not only did they master the art of weaving, they also mastered the environment their materials came from,” said Brown. “They were not only basket-makers but they were caretakers, stewards of the land.
The Native Americans of the Northeast use sweet grass or ash splints for baskets while tribes of the Southeast use bundled pine needles or rivercane. Northwestern tribes use cedar bark, spruce roots, and swamp grass. Tribes of the Southwest use sumac or willow wood.
Coiled baskets can be woven so tightly that they hold water. In the past, coiled baskets were also used for cooking.