Mendo Lake 3

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Establishing:The same two women from Mendo Lake 1 & 2, unknown festival announcer in the background.

Named locations: Lake Mendocino (shown and mentioned), San Francisco Bay Area, 1891 Cocktail Lounge (Ukiah, CA), Colorado
Major themes covered: Senior Native American Day, Mendo Lake Pomo Council, bringing the old ways of living to the younger generations of Pomo people, Cultural Visitor's Center (sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers), Dancing contests, Bay Area Native American dancers, history of Mendo Lake, Elsie Allen, Nelson Hopper, Indian jewelry and basketry, water balloon toss.
Individuals Named:
Elsie Allen, Lieutenant General John Morris (of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), Ira Campbell (shown with name tag), Nelson Hopper.  NOTE: other names are mentioned but they are barely audible.

Noteworthy elements:  An excerpt from the history of the Pomo people, which appears at the beginning of Remember Your Relations: the Elsie Allen baskets, family, and friends (co-written by Suzanne Abel- Vidor, Dot Brovarney, and Susan Billy (Elsie Allen's last protégé):

"Before the coming of Europeans, an estimated 11,500 to 21,000 people, now generally grouped together under the name "Pomo," lived in what would become Mendocino, Sonoma, and Lake counties. The spoke seven related but mutually unintelligible languages, some more different from one another than are the Germanic languages (English, German, Icelandic, Dutch, etc.). Within each of these languages were numerous distinct dialects, particular ways of speaking that identified a person's village or community. These diverse people, who did not in any way think of themselves as a single cultural or political entity, belonged to over seventy politically independent groups--village states, they might be called.

The various Pomo people differed widely in their manner of living. Those who lived along the coast, for example, had shellfish and seaweed almost for the taking. They caught ocean fish, sometimes by casting nets into the sea, sometimes by fishing from rocks with a hook and line. Fashioning rafts out of driftwood, they visited offshore islands to hunt seals and sea lions or gather mussels. They hunted deer and Roosevelt elk in the clearings of the redwood forests, while the bark of the redwood trees provided building materials for their dwellings and fiber for their clothing.

By contrast, the easternmost group of the Pomo people lived in several different village communities along the marshy shores and on the islands of Clear Lake. They caught fish in the shallows of the lake and in various tributary streams, using basketry traps, fish weirs, and spears. With bows and specialized arrows, slings, and nets, they hunted the great flocks of geese and ducks that settled into the lake each winter. From nearby quarries they extracted magnesite, from which the most valuable money-beads (later called "Indian gold") were made, and obsidian. From the tule that grew in great profusion everywhere around the lake they created thatch for their dwellings, materials for clothing, and well-trimmed boats with which they crisscrossed the calm waters of their lake.

Between Clear Lake and the coast lived yet other Pomo groups. Their villages dotted the banks of the Russian River as well as parts of the Eel river to the north and Sonoma, Napa, and Petaluma Creeks to the south. This landscape of year-round rivers, valleys studded with oaks, and rolling hills offered a rich habitat, which made this the most densely populated part of Pomo territory. Deer, rabbits, pronghorn antelope, and other game abounded. People also harvested the seeds of some fifteen species of grass, plus a number of berries, greens, roots, and bulbs. Shredded willow bark provided clothing material, and dwelling houses were thatched with grass.

It was in these inland valleys that the largest and most complex village communities could be found. Villages only a few miles apart differed greatly. The village of Katcha, for example, in what is known today as Redwood Valley (just north of Ukiah) consisted of about twelve communal dwellings and perhaps 125 people, it was headed by a single chief. Yokaya, in present day Ukiah, had a population of more than 500, perhaps as many as 1,000. It was headed by a main chief and three subchiefs. Shanel, just to the south of Yokaya, was an enormous village of some 1,500 people. When an early ethnographer, Steven Powers, examined its ruins in 1877 he identified 104 dwelling-house pits and the foundations of five assembly houses. A village in the immediate vicinity called Shokowa (which may have been another name for Shanel) was also huge, governed by two main hereditary chiefs, an elected war chief, and a number of assembly house chiefs and "speaking" chiefs--some twenty chiefs altogether.

Traditional life among the various Pomo groups was in general characterized by deep knowledge of the land and its resources, and by a long history of restraint in using them, enforced by a clearly articulated legal code, by great technical and artistic skills (basketry, for example), and by strongly held, pervasive religious beliefs. Communities were governed not only by "chiefs," as previously mentioned, but by an elite of ceremonial leaders, shamans, professional craftsmen, traders, and heads of families. And while we might view each community as an independent village-state, in truth villages were joined to other villages by links of trade, intermarriage, rights to pass, military alliances, reciprocal religious obligations, and yet other ties. While native life as been characterized as "simple," nothing could be further from the truth. The Pomo lived with a number of highly evolved social and cultural institutions, a balanced and sophisticated complexity that gave them stability and a degree of prosperity for many centuries."

See also: Mendo Lake 1 and Mendo Lake 2 for more resources.

--Emily Thomas, 2013