Central Pomo

The traditional Central Pomo language area is from the Russian River southwest of Clear Lake to the Pacific coast. There were settlements along the Russian River (in the southern Ukiah Valley, in Hopland Valley, and further south near the Sonoma County line), in the coastal region (at Manchester, Point Arena, and at the mouth of the Gualala River), and in the region between the two (around Yorkville and in Anderson Valley). In pre-contact times, the Pomoan languages together probably had around 8,000 speakers (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are several speakers of Central Pomo (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation.

Map of the Pomoan languages
Map of the Pomoan languages (Walker 2020). For a large-scale map with village names, see Barrett 1908

Central Pomo is one of seven languages comprising the Pomoan language family; the others are Eastern Pomo, Kashaya Pomo, Northeastern Pomo, Northern Pomo, Southeastern Pomo, and Southern Pomo. Together, the Pomoan languages form one branch of the hypothesized Hokan language family, the other members of which are Chimariko, Esselen, Karuk, the Palaihnihan languages (Achumawi and Atsugewi), Salinan, the Shastan languages (Konomihu, New River Shasta, Okwanuchu, and Shasta), Washo, Yana, and the Yuman languages (Cocopa, Kiliwa, Kumeyaay, Maricopa, Mojave, Pai, Paipai, and Quechan).

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Selected materials in other archives

Further reading

  • de Angulo, Jaime. 1935. Pomo creation myth. Journal of American Folklore 48:203-262. [PDF]
  • Barrett, S. A. 1908. The ethno-geography of the Pomo and neighboring Indians. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 6:1-322. [PDF]
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1990. Third-Person Reference and the Function of Pronouns in Central Pomo Natural Speech. International Journal of American Linguistics 56: 361-376. [PDF]
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1993. “Switch-Reference”: Clause Combining in Central Pomo. International Journal of American Linguistics 59: 119-136. [PDF]