Eastern Pomo

The traditional Eastern Pomo language area is on the eastern side of Clear Lake, primarily along streams set back from the shore. There were five main groups centered around settlements in Big Valley (south of Lakeport), on the south shore of Clear Lake along Kelsey Creek, in Clover Valley (to the northeast of Upper Lake), along Middle Creek in Upper Lake Valley, and on the north shore of Clear Lake. In pre-contact times, the Pomoan languages together probably had around 8,000 speakers (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are only a few first-language speakers of Eastern Pomo. 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.

Eastern Pomo (also called “Clear Lake Pomo”) is one of seven languages comprising the Pomoan language family; the others are Central Pomo, Kashaya, Northeastern Pomo, Northern Pomo, Southern Pomo, and Southeastern 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).

Grammatical information

Thumbnail sketch of Eastern Pomo by Sally McLendon [PDF] (Haas.063)

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Selected materials in other archives

Further reading

  • 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]
  • McLendon, Sally. 1975. A grammar of Eastern Pomo. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • McLendon, Sally. 1977. Bear kills her own daughter-in-law (Eastern Pomo). In Victor Golla and Shirley Silver, eds. Northern Californian texts, pp. 26-65. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • McLendon, Sally. 1978. Coyote and the ground squirrels (Eastern Pomo). In William Bright (ed.), Coyote Stories, pp. 87-111. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • McLendon, Sally. 1996. Sketch of Eastern Pomo, a Pomoan Language. In Goddard, Ives (ed.), Handbook of American Indians. 17:507-550. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institute.