Mendo Lake 1

Production Date: 
Run Time: 

Establishing shot:
Named locations:
Mendo Lake (Lake Mendocino), Coyote Dam, Ukiah (CA), the Russian River, Coyote Valley, Willits (CA), Redwood Forest.
Major themes covered:  discuss the art and culture of Pomo Indians
Native activities shown:  
Individuals Named:
Elsie Allen, Angie Campbell, Grandma Molly and Grandma Lucy (other names are mentioned but they are barely audible)
Native language spoken:
Audible?  silent
Noteworthy elements:  
Other notes:

From the Coyote Valley Tribe's website:

"The Tribe is a Sovereign Tribal Nation, located in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, California.

The Coyote Valley Rancheria began with the purchase of land in Coyote Valley in 1909 by the United States Government, U.S. Department of Interior, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The purchase was for benefit of the Indians of the Ukiah Valley.

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians was recognized by the United States of America as a federally recognized Indian Tribe on June 18, 1934, the date that the Indian Reorganization Act,25 U.S.C. Section 461, et. seq. (IRA), was enacted. The Coyote Valley Reservation is approximately 70 acres and is located in Mendocino County, California. The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Membership is comprised of approximately 406 enrolled members. Of that number, about 170 reside on the reservation.

The Tribe operates a number of governmental departments including a tribal police force, tribal education, health, recreation, and environmental protection departments, among others. In addition, the Tribal Government operates a Tribal Administration complex providing administrative support, accounting and fiscal accountability, and human resource functions for the Tribe. The Tribe also operates a Day Care facility, Learning center and Swimming pool facility. The Tribe has entered into a Tribal-State Compact with the State of California (Compact) pursuant to the Indian Gaming regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. Section 2701, et. seq. (IGRA), whereby it operates the Coyote Valley Casino. Moreover, the Tribe maintains a Day Care facility, Education and Learning center, Swimming pool (Recreation) and Gymnasium complex, a Tribal Police, Housing, Health and Social Services and Environmental Protection Departments.

The Coyote Valley Rancheria is approximately 70 acres and is located in Mendocino County, California. The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Membership is comprised of 317 enrolled members. Of that number, about 170 reside on the reservation. The governing body of the Tribe is the Coyote Valley Tribal Council which is comprised of 7 tribal members who are elected by the Tribe's General Council. The Coyote Valley General Council is comprised of all adult voting members of the Tribe.

The Tribal governing document was enacted on October 4, 1980 and is entitled The Document Embodying the Laws, Customs and Traditions of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and is sometimes referred to as the Tribal constitution. Numerous Ordinances and Resolutions have been enacted since that date in governance of the Tribe. In August 2007 the Tribal Council revoked all unnecessary laws and ordinances, keeping only those laws deemed pertinent to Tribal governmental and casino operations." [retrieved from]

Print Resources:

Abel-Vidor, Suzanne, Susan Billy, et al. Remember Your Relations: the Elsie Allen baskets, family & friends. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1996. Print.

      *This book provides a sense of Pomo basketry from Elsie Allen's perspective. This book reflects the same efforts at cultural preservation documented in the Mendo Lake films, as well as the cultural climate and tone evident in the films.

Barrett, S. A. Pomo Indian basketry. Glorieta, NM: Rio Grande Press, 1970. Print.

*"Reprint of the 1908 ed., published by University Press, Berkeley, which was issued as v. 7, no. 3 of University of California publications in American archaeology and ethnology."

Brown, Vinson and Douglas Andrews. The Pomo Indians of California and their neighbors. Healdsburg, California: Naturegraph Publishers, 1969. Print.

     *This publication contains a map, which locates the Pomo Indians in relation to neighboring tribes and other California tribes in general. This book also makes connections between the tribes through photographs, illustrations, and a basic, informative narrative.

Shanks, Ralph and Lisa, et al. Indian baskets of central California: Art, Culture, and History : Native American Basketry from San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay North to Mendocino and East to the Sierras. Novato, CA: Costaño Books, 2006. Print.

Other Film Resources:

The Path of Our Elders. Dir. Mendo Lake Pomo Council and Shenandoah Film Productions. Shenandoah Film Productions, 1980s. VHS.

*This is another film featuring the Mendo Lake Pomo Council. The following description is given on the University of Arizona Libraries website: "Profiles the Pomo Indians of California; tells how their culture, traditions, and language are being preserved and handed down throughout the generations. Elders describe their experiences at boarding schools and the importance of keeping their language alive."

The American Indian series: Basketry of the Pomo, introductory film. Dir. S.A. Barrett. Univ of California, Extension Media Center, 1962. VHS.

*"The Pomo Indians of Northern California were the world's most expert basketmakers. They created baskets with graceful geometric forms and intricate designs as well as rough and utilitarian ones; the cooking baskets were woven so tightly they could be used for boiling liquids with hot stones. Baskets were made for ceremonial purposes, transport, sifting, storing, trapping fish and birds, and holding infants. The film shows Indians gathering raw materials for baskets and demonstrates, in slow-motion close-ups and animation, the ten basketmaking techniques of this tribe, including twining, coiling, and wicker techniques. The basic design elements are seen, as is one of the most beautiful features of Pomo basketry, the use of feathers for decoration. Basket materials were obtained from wild plants by Clear Lake, for example, the dogwood, white willow, sedge, bullrush and redbud."


Online Resources:

*The official website for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. The website provides historical, cultural, and governmental information about the tribe, in addition to updated information about the tribe's current involvement in the Mendocino community.

*This is link to a website that contains a brief history of Pomo Indians. This history focuses predominantly on the time proceeding European contact.

*This website provides a more general, brief account of the history, culture, and customs of the Pomo Indian. This website also provides a list of Pomo villages.

*This is a link to the description of Mendo Lake on the official Mendocino travel website. This site provides useful information for those interested in visiting Lake Mendocino.

*This is a link to a site sponsored the English Department at Reed College. The site provides information about the Pomo Indians, as well as links to other sources of information about the Pomo people and their customs.

*This is link to the website for the city of Ukiah, the town where Lake Mendocino is located.

*A link to the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers website. This government organization provided funding for the construction of the Pomo Cultural Center mentioned in the Mendo Lake films. From the website: "Opened in the early 1980’s the Pomo Cultural Center is operated by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo’s and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Modeled after a traditional Pomo roundhouse, the Pomo Cultural Center offers displays about Pomo hunting, dancing, money, and basketry. There is also information about local fish, wildlife, and plants. A 100 person outdoor amphitheater with stage that doubles as meeting space. Exhibit area can be arranged for temporary exhibits or used outside of business hours for meetings. We are also looking for people interested in offering programs/activities and events for the public. Call (707) 467-4200 to discuss your ideas or schedule your meeting."

*This is a link to an article from 2010, which discusses a new plan to renovate the Pomo Cultural Center.

*A link to the Mendocino Museum, where many Pomo cultural artifacts are housed and displayed. From the website: "The Mendocino County Historical Society, a broad-based society for the preservation of local history, was incorporated in 1956 and grew into an organization of several hundred by the 1960s.  With a growing collection and interest in display of historic artifacts, MCHS made establishment of a museum their prime project in the late 1960s.  Their fund-raising efforts, largely by publishing articles and books on local and regional history, proved successful in attracting substantial donations.

The Society negotiated a 99-year lease for $1 per year with the City of Willits, on East Commercial Street, the planned prime exit from the proposed freeway into Willits.  Architect J. Boyd Brown of Oakland, and Willits Contractor, George L. Recagno were engaged by the Society to build a suitable museum of 11,000 square feet on the newly leased property, formerly the site of the Willits Airport.

During construction, the Society negotiated an agreement with the County of Mendocino to operate the new museum as a distinct department of county government, responsible for staffing, facility maintenance and operations.  The Society and Museum would continue publications, operate a Book & Gift Store, and initially institute a general admission fee.  All monies generated by the Museum were to be used for museum programming.

With the first staff hired and merger with the former Willits Frontier Museum, sorting of artifacts and formation of the first exhibits was done in the early months of 1972.  The Mendocino County Museum was opened in a grand ceremony of transfer from the Mendocino County Historical Society to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on June 11, 1972."

*"The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center was founded in 1996 with the purpose of educating the public about the history, culture, and contemporary life of California Indians and to honor their contributions to civilization."

*"The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House in Ukiah, California, is an art, history and anthropology museum focusing on the lifeworks of artist Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937) and her ethnologist husband, Dr. John W. Hudson (1857-1936). Changing interdisciplinary exhibitions and public programs feature Western American art, California Indian cultures, histories of California's diverse North Coast region, and the work of contemporary regional artists.

Since its inauguration in 1986, the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House has become an increasingly important cultural and educational resource for Northern California. The Museum's collections consist of more than 30,000 interrelated objects, with significant holdings of Pomo Indian artifacts (particularly basketry) ethnographic field notes, unpublished manuscripts, historic photographs and the world's largest collection of Grace Hudson paintings. The Museum's exhibitions and public programs are thematically shaped by, and linked to, its collections with their focus on Western art, history and anthropology. The Museum also houses a gift store with jewelry, children's items, local artists' work, books, and t-shirts. The Museum sits on the four acre Hudson-Carpenter Park."

*This is a link to some useful background information on the history of Pomo basketry, as well as photographs of different types of Pomo baskets.

--Emily Thomas, 2013