Mendo Lake 2

Production Date: 
Run Time: 

Establishing shot:
Named locations:
Lake Mendocino, California State University, East Bay.
Major themes covered: 
Native American Senior Day at Mendo Lake; Pomo chanting and dancing; Pomo ceremonial dress; Mendo Lake Pomo Council; Elsie Allen; cultural revitalization within the Pomo community; Nelson Hopper; shamanism; Pomo diet; Pomo subsistence and language; academic interest in Pomo culture and language.
Native activities shown:  
Individuals Named:
Elsie Allen, Angie Campbell, Nelson Hopper, Gene, or Ian Coleman
Native language spoken:  Pomo chanting
Noteworthy elements: 

   A few thoughts on the Pomo from Susan Billy, who is a member of the Pomo community, a student of Elsie Allen, and a  famous basketweaver:

"Among our people, both men and women were basketmakers. Everything in our lifestyle was connected to those baskets. Our lives were bound the way baskets were bound together." Susan Billy, Ukiah Pomo, master weaver, teacher

"The word 'Pomo' which some believe is derived from Poma, the name of a particular village, was given to us by anthropologists at the turn of the century. Because of similarities of our basketry and culture, anthropologists conveniently saw us as one group. Actually, there are more than 70 different tribes within what is known as Pomo country. We originally had 7 different languages, but only 3 are still spoken. In terms of basketry, though, there is a commonality in our weaving -- the shapes, materials, and techniques we use." -- Susan Billy  [retrieved from]

Print Resources:

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

* This is an important resource from the community on the art of Pomo basketry, and, in particular, the basketry of Elsie Allen (mentioned in all three Mendo Lake films).

Allen, Elsie and Vinson Brown. Pomo Basketmaking: a supreme art for the weaver. Happy Camp, CA: Naturegraph, 1988. 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.


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.

McClendon, Sally and Oswalt, Robert. 1978. Pomo: Introduction, in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 8 (California). William C. Sturtevant, and Robert F. Heizer, eds. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978. 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."




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.

*From this website for the Kelley House Museum: "Pomos lived along the Mendocino Coast for thousands of years prior to European settlement in 1850. Pomo simply means “the people.” Living close to the sea allowed for a diet of fish, seaweed, clams and mussels. Numerous shell middens (deposits) on the Mendocino headlands and on various properties throughout the town provide visible proof of their campsites. In addition, evidence of the village, Buldam, has been rediscovered in east Mendocino, across Highway One.

The arrival of Russian fur trappers along the Sonoma Coast in 1811, followed by Spanish missionaries in 1817, initiated the collapse of the broader Pomo world. But it was the arrival of Hudson Bay trappers in 1833 and Europeans in search of gold and redwood forests during the mid-1800s that resulted in the most devastating impact on North Coast Pomos, including dispossession of their lands, disease, enslavement, and relocation.

In 1855, the federal government established the Mendocino Indian Reservation on 25,000 acres between the Noyo and Ten Mile Rivers, with its military headquarters located in what is now the business center of the town of Fort Bragg, ten miles north of Mendocino. It is reported that by 1857, thousands of Native Americans (not all Pomo) had been rounded up from as far away as Eureka and Chico and confined on this reservation for nine years before it was discontinued in 1866. Reservation lands were then sold off to European settlers and the Coastal Pomos were relocated elsewhere, many went inland to the Round Valley Reservation.

A new exhibit at the Kelley House Museum offers a historical overview of Mendocino’s earliest residents, as well as an array of photo prints and artifacts depicting their way of life. Interpretive text on Pomo shelters, dance houses, sweat lodges, and basketry round out the exhibit. On loan from the Dorothy Byrnes Leonard Collection are examples of decorative gift and utilitarian baskets, a woven infant carrier, and a duplicate toy cradle. Additional photos and documents can be found be searching our Online Collections.We have a wonderful article written by Chris Calder, 'Living at Kah-la-deh-mun: A Talk with Harriet Campbell Stanley Rhoades, Pomo Elder.'"

*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 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 some useful background information on the history of Pomo basketry, as well as photographs of different types of Pomo baskets.

*Another biographical resource for those interested in Elsie Allen, the famous basketweaver who is mentioned in all three Mendo Lake films.

*Biographical information for Susan Billy, who was one of Elsie Allen's last students and a prominent member of the larger Pomo community.

*A wonderful contemporary organization for Pomo youth, which follows in the footsteps of the Mendo Lake Pomo Council with goals of cultural preservation in mind. From the website: "The objectives of this group shall be to provide a collective voice and represent the tribal youth in all matters that concern them; to serve as a means of mobilizing and coordinating the actions of youth, other community members and organizations toward positive goals; to promote the development of future tribal leaders; to help solve problems facing tribal youth; to coordinate school and community service projects and provide opportunities for the youth to interact for fun and fellowship."

*This is a link to an extensive bibliography of sources on Pomo culture, history, and language.

*Information on the Pomo languages.

*More information on the Pomo languages.

--Emily Thomas, 2013