The Pomo Indians were a tribal people who lived on the west coast of the United States, primarily north of what is currently San Francisco in the state of California. They were generally known as a particularly wealthy tribe, living in an area with abundant resources and other advantages. The tribe lived near a salt deposit, which was a useful trade item, and they also lived near magnesite, which was used in the crafting of beads. At one time, Pomo Indians occupied a relatively large area of land, but they were only able to hold on to approximately 50 acres (20.23 hectares) of it. They have always been highly regarded for their skill and artistry in the area of basket-making — their baskets are very colorful, using a variety of materials including feathers and many kinds of wood.
Historical Pomo Indians lived in many different environments, from coastal areas to forests—because of this, their housing varied significantly. Those that lived near the sea made their houses out of bark and hard timber, while those that lived further inland generally made houses out of softer materials like grass and mats. There was no real concept of land ownership among the Pomo Indians, and they generally shared everything with the community, including hunting grounds.
Food was very abundant for the Pomo Indians. They lived in an area with a large number of edible plants and animals. The tribe gathered many different kinds of nuts and berries. They also hunted and fished, targeting a wide variety of animals that included everything from waterfowl to mammals like deer. Hunting was accomplished using many different weapons, including bows and arrows, clubs, nets and many different kinds of traps.
The tribe generally had close ties to Russian fur traders in the early 1800s, but the later part of that century was a turning point when things started becoming more difficult. Mexicans began raiding Pomo Indian territory and taking tribe members as slaves. They were forced to hide in Spanish missions and reservations so that they could protect themselves. European diseases like smallpox also took a significant toll on their population.
In late 1857, the tribe was confined to a single reservation in Fort Bragg, California, but that didn’t work out — it was abandoned within 10 years. The remaining members of the tribe generally ended up in various reservations around the state. Some of the Pomo have lobbied the US government to regain a larger portion of their ancestral lands.