Published on October 22, 2010 by John
In a part of North America where Native basketry reached an exquisite level of development, territory known now as California, the Pomo are considered the foremost basketmakers of all. They created their beautiful baskets for functional purposes, but collectors now value them as works of ﬁne art. In some Pomo baskets, the weaving is so tight that a microscope is needed to count the stitches.
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The Pomo crafted many different kinds of objects with their basketmaking skills, such as cooking pots, containers, trays, cradles, hats, mats, ceremonial objects, games, ﬁsh traps, and boats. Unlike men of most other Indian tribes, Pomo men participated in this craft.
Moreover, the Pomo, using grasses, reeds, barks, and roots as basic materials, had two distinct methods of weaving baskets: twining and coiling. In twining, two or more horizontal strands (called wefts) are twined around each other as they are woven in and out of a set of vertical strands (called warps). In coiling, thin strips of plant matter are wrapped in a bundle and coiled into a continuous spiral. The Pomo had variations of these basic techniques and created designs and decorations with dyes, shells, and feathers.
The Pomo occupied ancestral territory along the Paciﬁc Coast and some distance inland, starting about 50 miles north of San Francisco Bay. Their small villages were located as far inland as Clear Lake, with a concentration of communities around that lake and along the Russian River. There were actually at least 72 bands with distinct identities grouped together as Pomo. Linguists have established seven different dialects in the Pomoan language family of Hokan and speak of seven divisions: Northern, Central, Eastern, Northeastern, Southeastern, Southwestern, and Southern. The name applied to all groups, pronounced PO-mo, is taken from the sound pomo or poma, which was placed by them after village names and probably means “village”.
The Pomo were hunter-gatherers like other CALIFORNIA INDIANS, relying on acorns, small mammals, fowl, and ﬁsh. The coast Pomo, separated from the inland Pomo by a redwood forest, piled slabs of redwood bark against a center pole to make cone-shaped dwellings,large enough for only one family. The Clear Lake and Russian River Pomo built pole-framed and thatch-covered rectangular structures that housed several families.
The men shared partially underground, earth-covered buildings called singing lodges for councils and ceremonies. Many of their rituals surrounded the secret Kuksu Cult (see WINTUN). Smaller pithouses served as sweat lodges.
Source: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES by CA R L WA L D M A N