US Tribes E to G

Linked US Tribes E to G tribal names  go to their profile index page which will contain more links to sections of our site where you can find articles about that tribe and related tribes.

Click on a letter of the alphabet to go to US Tribes starting with another  letter. Where known, the official name is used. Linked tribal names go to their profile index page which will contain more links to sections of our site where you can find articles about that tribe and related tribes.


A-B   C-D   E-F-G   H-I-J   K-L-M   N-O-P  Q-R-S   T-U-V   W-X-Y-Z

KEY:(F)= Federally Recognized, (S)= State Recognized, (T)= Terminated, (U)= Unrecognized, (M)= Mesoamerican Civilizations,(P)= Petitioning for Recognition, (C)= Canadian Tribes, (E)= Extinct, (IRA)= Indian Reorganization Act

Inclusion on this site does NOT mean an endorsement has been made for recognition of any particular tribe. All entities claiming to be US indian tribes that we are aware of have been included for completeness.

Where known, we have indicated official tribal status with our Key Chart, based on information released by the BIA as of May 2016. In many cases we have not verified the validity of the claim of tribal status, and leave it to your own common sense or further research to validate tribal claims.

Alternate names in parenthesis are either older names that were once used to identify that tribe, or they are misspellings.

Links to US Tribes E to G tribal profile pages are at the bottom of the page.

us tribes starting with E



Lower Elwha Tribal Community of the Lower Elwha Reservation (Washington State) (F)

Eenou (Eeyou)

Elko Colony – See Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada

Esselen (Ecclemachs,Etchemin, Etchimin, Eslen, Eslenes, Excelen, and Escelen) (U)

Etnemitane Euchee Eudeve (Eudebe, Endeve)

us tribes starting with F



Fernandeño/Tataviam Tribe (California)

Flandreau Santee Sioux — Also See Sioux Indians

Fond du Lac Tribe – See Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes – See Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation

Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe — See Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation

Flathead — See Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Fox — See Sac & Fox Nation, Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska, and Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa

French Cree

us tribes starting with G


Gabrielino (Gabrieleño, Kizh, Kij,Playsanos, Tobikhars, Tumangamalum) (California) – See see Tongva

Goshute: (Gosiute)

Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation (Nevada and Utah) (F)
Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians of Utah(F)

Grand Ronde -See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde (F)

Gros Ventre (Also known as Atsina)

Gros Ventre: (Split from Arapaho tribe)  See Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana

Grand Portage Band – See Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota (F)

Gaigwu  (or Kaigwu) – See Kiowa

Galice – See Tolowa

Garifuna (U)- Descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib, and Arawak people. The British colonial administration used the term Black Carib and Garifuna to distinguish them from Yellow and Red Carib, the Amerindian population that did not intermarry with Africans.

Today the Garifuna people live primarily in Central America, but there are scattered communities in major US cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, New Orleans, Houston, and Seattle.

Gashowu – Language of the Yokuts

Goltsan (Kolchan) – An Athabaskan language of the Na Dene language family. It is spoken in the Upper Kuskokwim River village of Nikolai, Alaska.

Guarijio (Guarihio, Guarijío) –  A Uto-Aztecan language of the states of Chihuahua and Sonora in northwestern Mexico.

Gulf – See Caddo

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Article Index:

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

The federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the only federally recognized tribe in the state of North Carolina.

The Eastern Cherokee are those Cherokee people who remained on their traditional homelands when most of the Cherokee were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma on the infamous Trail of Tears.

Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma are descended from the mixed Seneca-Shawnee band which left Lewistown, Ohio and came to the Indian Territory in 1832. Recognized as a separate tribe in 1867, they organized as the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma during the 1930s.

Shawnee t-shirt

Official Tribal Name: Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

Address:  127 West Oneida Street, PO Box 350, Seneca, Missouri 64865
Phone:  866-674-3786
Fax:  888-971-3905 (Please indicate department)

Official Website: 

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Shawnee comes from the Algonquin word “shawun” (shawunogi) meaning “southerner.” However, this referred to their original location in the Ohio Valley relative to other Great Lakes Algonquin rather than a homeland in the American southeast. Shawnee usually prefer to call themselves the Shawano – sometimes given as Shawanoe or Shawanese.

Common Name: Shawnee

Meaning of Common Name:

Alternate names:

South Carolina colonists knew them as the Savannah or Savannuca.
Also Cumberland Indians

Alternate spellings / Mispellings:

Name in other languages:

Ani-Sawanugi (Cherokee)
Chaouanons (Chauenon) (French)
Chaskpe (Chaouesnon) (French)
Chiouanon (Seneca)
Ontwagnnn (Iroquois, meaning “one who stutters”)
Oshawanoag (Ottawa)
Satana (Iroquois)
Shawala (Lakota)
Touguenha (Iroquois)

Region: Northeast

State(s) Today: Oklahoma

Traditional Territory:

The Shawnee Indians originally inhabited areas around what is now Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In the late 17th Century, however, the were invaded by their traditional enemy, the Iroquois and driven from their lands. They were driven into South Carolina, eastern Pennsylvania and southern Illinois. With the coming of the white man the Shawnee were again forced to move from their home country. They were gradually driven west, first to Missouri, then Kansas and finally Oklahoma.

Confederacy: Shawnee Tribes, Tecumseh’s Confederacy


The 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs granted the Shawnees still in northwest Ohio three reservations: Wapakoneta, Hog Creek, and Lewistown. By 1824, about 800 Shawnees lived in Ohio and 1,383 lived in Missouri. In 1825, Congress ratified a treaty with the Cape Girardeau Shawnees ceding their Missouri lands for a 1.6 million-acre reservation in eastern Kansas. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Ohio Shawnees on the Wapakoneta and Hog Creek reservations signed a treaty with the US giving them lands on the Kansas Reservation.

The Lewistown Reservation Shawnees, together with their Seneca allies and neighbors, signed a separate treaty with the federal government in 1831 and moved directly to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Lewistown Shawnees became the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, while their Seneca allies became the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma.

In 1854, the US government decimated the Kansas Reservation to 160,000 acres. This, coupled with the brutal abuses perpetrated against them by white settlers during and after the Civil War, forced the Kansas Shawnees to relocate to Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. The 1854 Shawnee Reservation in Kansas was never formally extinguished and some Shawnee families retain their Kansas allotments today.

The federal government caused the former Kansas Shawnees and the Cherokees to enter into a formal agreement in 1869, whereby the Shawnees received allotments and citizenship in Cherokee Nation.

The Shawnees settled in and around White Oak, Bird Creek (Sperry), and Hudson Creek (Fairland), maintaining separate communities and separate cultural identities. Known as the Cherokee Shawnees, they would also later be called the Loyal Shawnees.

Initial efforts begun in the 1980s to separate the Shawnee Tribe from Cherokee Nation culminated when Congress enacted Public Law 106-568, the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000, which restored the Shawnee Tribe to its position as a sovereign Indian nation.

Land Area:  
Tribal Headquarters:  
Time Zone:  Central

Population at Contact:

The pre European Shawnee population numbered somewhere around 10,000. The first US Census in 1825 gave 1400 Shawnee in Missouri, 1100 in Louisiana, and 800 in Ohio.

Registered Population Today:

Today, there are three official groups of the Shawnee. The largest group is the Loyal Shawnee. They number about 8,000 individuals. They were originally recognised by the United States Government as part of the Cherokee Nation, however they finally gained federal recognition as a separate Shawnee Tribe in 2000. The Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma has about 1,600 members. There are about 2,000 Absentee Shawnee. A fourth group is the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band who number about six hundred. However, they are not recognised by the Federal Government. The total modern Shawnee population, then, stands at about 14,000.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Name of Governing Body:  
Number of Council members:  
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  


Language Classification: Algonquin

Language Dialects: Southern Great Lakes (Wakashan) dialect closely related to Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, and Kickapoo.

Number of fluent Speakers:



The Shawnee considered the Delaware as their “grandfathers” and the source of all Algonquin tribes. They also shared an oral tradition with the Kickapoo that they were once members of the same tribe. Identical language supports this oral history, and since the Kickapoo are known to have originally lived in northeast Ohio prior to contact, it can safely be presumed that the Shawnee name of “southerner” means they lived somewhere immediately south of the Kickapoo. However, the exact location is uncertain, since the Iroquois forced both tribes to abandon the area before contact.

Related Tribes:

  • Absentee Shawnee (F)
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (F)
  • Shawnee Tribe (F)
  • Piqua Shawnee Tribe (S)
  • Chickamauga Keetoowah Unami Wolf Band of Cherokee Delaware Shawnee of Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. (U)
  • East of the River Shawnee, Ohio (U)
  • Kispoko Sept of Ohio Shawnee, Louisiana (U)
  • Kispoko Sept of Ohio Shawnee (Hog Creek Reservation), Ohio (U)
  • Lower Eastern Ohio Mekoce Shawnee, Ohio Letter of Intent to Petition 3/5/2001. (U)
  • Lower Eastern Ohio Mekojay Shawnee, Ohio (U)
  • Morning Star Shawnee Nation, Ohio (U)
  • Platform Reservation Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation (U)
  • Shawnee Nation Blue Creek Band, of Adams County, Ohio. Letter of Intent to Petition 8/5/1998. (U)
  • Piqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee Tribe—Letter of Intent to Petition 04/16/1991. (U)
  • Ridgetop Shawnee, Kentucky. In 2009 and 2010, the State House of the Kentucky General Assembly recognized the Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe of Indians by passing House Joint Resolutions 15 or HJR-15 and HJR-16. (U)
  • Southeastern Kentucky Shawnee, Kentucky (U)
  • Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, Ohio (U)
  • United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, Kansas (U)
  • Upper Kispoko Band of the Shawnee Nation, Indiana (U)
  • Vinyard Indian Settlement of Shawnee Indians, Illinois (U)
  • Youghiogaheny River Band Of Shawnee Indians, Maryland (U)

The Shawnee Tribe was once part of the Cherokee Nation.

Traditional Allies: The closest allies of the Shawnee were the Kickapoo and Delaware.  Further to the south, the most important neighbors of the Shawnee tribe were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek Indians. Sometimes the Shawnees traded with these tribes, and other times they fought them.

Traditional Enemies:  They always considered the Iroquois to be enemies.

Bands and Clans:

Bloodlines are patriarchial, meaning they are traced through the father’s lines.

Ceremonies / Dances:

Many important Shawnee ceremonies were tied to the agricultural cycle: the spring bread dance at planting time; the green corn dance when crops ripened; and the autumn bread dance to celebrate the harvest. 

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Legends / Oral Stories:

Crafts / Musical Instruments: The Eastern Shawnee tribe is known for their beadwork, pottery, and wood carving. Like other eastern American Indians, the Shawnee also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The designs and pictures on wampum belts often told a story or represented a person’s family.  Musical instruments included drums and deer-hoof rattles.  The Shawnees made dugout canoes by hollowing out large trees.

Animals: Before Europeans brought horses back to North America, the Shawnee used dogs as pack animals.

Clothing: Shawnee women wore skirts with leggings. Shawnee men wore breechclouts and leggings. Shirts were not necessary for either sex in the Shawnee culture, but both men and women often wore ponchos in cool weather. The Shawnees wore moccasins on their feet. As they migrated from place to place, the Shawnees adopted clothing styles from many other Indian tribes and from white settlers.

The Shawnees didn’t wear full headdresses like the Sioux. Sometimes they wore a beaded headband with a feather or two in it. Shawnee people usually wore their hair long, though Shawnee warriors sometimes shaved their heads in the Mohawk style. Many Shawnees painted designs onto their faces, and some wore tribal tattoos. 


During the summer the Shawnee gathered into large villages of bark-covered long houses, with each village usually having a large council house for meetings and religious ceremonies. In the fall they separated to small hunting camps of extended families. 


The Shawnee were semi-sedentary farmers who left their central villages in the fall for hunting excursions in smaller family groups. Men were warriors and did the hunting and fishing. Care of their corn fields and building homes were the responsibility of the women.

Economy Today:

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs


Famous Shawnee Chiefs and Leaders:

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Shawnee portraitsTecumseh
Tenskwatawa (The Prophet, brother of Tecunseh) –
Black Hoof

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

The loss of their homeland has given the Shawnee the reputation of being wanderers, but this was by necessity, not choice. The Shawnee have always maintained a strong sense of tribal identity, but this produced very little central political organization. During their dispersal, each of their five divisions functioned as an almost autonomous unit. This continued to plague them after they returned to Ohio, and few Shawnee could ever claim to the title of “head chief.”

Like the Delaware, Shawnee civil chiefships were hereditary and held for life. They differed from the Delaware in that, like most Great Lakes Algonquin, the Shawnee were patrilineal with descent traced through the father. War chiefs were selected on the basis of merit and skill.

During their stay in the southeast, the Shawnee acquired a some cultural characteristics from the Creek and Cherokee, but, for the most part, they were fairly typical Great Lakes Algonquin.

In the News:

Further Reading:

Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria

The Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians is the only Southeastern Pomo indian tribe that is a federally recognized tribal government. The Southeastern Pomo Tribes of Lake County, California were a united sovereign fishing and gathering nation that consisted of four main villages. Today, there are roughly 20 Pomo rancherias in northern California.

Official Tribal Name: Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria

Address: 13300 E Highway 20 Suite B,  P. O. Box 989, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423
Phone:  707-998-2292
Fax:  707-998-2993

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Pomo is a combination of Northern Pomo words meaning “those who live at red earth hole.”

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:

Alternate names:

Elem Indian Colony, Sulphur Bank Rancheria

Elem also known as:

  • Rattlesnake Island
  • Elem Indian Colony
  • Sulfur Bank Rancheria
  • towns of Clearlake & Oaks, CA

Cigom also known as:

  • Indian Island
  • town of Clearlake, CA

Koi also known as:

  • Lower Lake, CA

Komdot also known as:

  • Buckingham Island
  • town of Rivera, CA
    Komdot was the traditional Chief’s Village.

 Alternate spellings / Mispellings:

Name in other languages:

Region: California 

State(s) Today: California

Traditional Territory:

About 80,000 arcres around the area now known as Clear Lake, California, was the home area of this tribe. They also ranged over an additional 2 million acres around the lake and along the Pacific Coast. 

Confederacy: Pomo


Reservations: Sulphur Bank Rancheria
Land Area: About 80 acres northwest of Clear Lake, California 
Tribal Headquarters:  Clear Lake Oaks, California
Time Zone:  Pacific

Population at Contact:

In 1770, the first census count was taken and that census listed 8,000 tribe members for all Pomo, collectively. However, in pre-contact times, the population was much greater, some estimates are as high as between 10,000 and 18,000. The size of the Pomo tribes diminished quickly during the 1800s. In 1851, there were around 4,000 members, and only 30 years later the number dropped to 1,450.

Registered Population Today:

Today the Pomo people number just over 4,000, collectively, with about 250 belonging to the Elem Pomo tribe today. About 80 Elem Pomo members live on their reservation.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Name of Governing Body:  
Number of Council members:  
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  


Language Classification:

There are four Pomoan language branches: western, eastern, southern, and northern Pomo, with seven distinct dialects each spoken by one Pomo tribe. There is no political alliance among the Pomo tribes, they are related only by their language origins.

Language Dialects:

Southeastern Pomo, an 8,000-year-old dialect spoken by a people who once flourished along the shores of Clear Lake (Lake County) was handed down orally and never written, and the language has nearly vanished.

Number of fluent Speakers:

As of 2007, there was only one fluent speaker remaining. 



Bands, Gens, and Clans

Related Tribes:

Traditional Allies:

Traditional Enemies:

Pomos often fought Patwins, Wappos, Wintuns, and Yukis. 

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Legends / Oral Stories:

Art & Crafts:

Items made by the Pomo included baskets (cooking pots, containers, cradles, hats, mats, games, traps, and boats); fish nets, weirs, spears, and traps; tule mats, moccasins, leggings, boots, and houses; and assorted stone, wood, and bone tools. Feathers and beads were often used for design. Hunting tools included the bow and arrow, spear, club, snares, and traps.

Pomo baskets were of extraordinarily high quality. Contrary to the custom in many tribes, men assisted in making baskets. Best known for weaving watertight baskets made from bullrush (also known as tule or cattails) and willow strands decorated with feathers and beads made from shells. This process requires chewing and holding the fibers with your teeth. Because the water they grow in is now heavily polluted with mercury, this creates a health hazard, and has lead to a huge decline in people who still remember how to make these baskets.

Exchange also occurred on special trade expeditions. Objects of interest might include finished products such as baskets as well as raw materials. The Clear Lake Pomo had salt and traded it for tools, weapons, furs, and shells. All groups used money of baked and polished magnesite as well as strings of clam shell beads. The Pomo could count and add up to 40,000.



Dress was minimal. Such clothing as people wore they made from tule, skins, shredded redwood, or willow bark. Men often went naked. Women wore waist-to-ankle skirts, with a mantle tied around the neck that hung to meet the skirt. Skin blankets provided extra warmth. 


 A number of materials were used for personal decoration, including clamshell beads, magnesite cylinders, abalone shell, and feathers. Bead belts and neck and wrist bands were worn as costume accessories and as signs of wealth. 

Housing and Social Organization:

Along the coast, people built conical houses of redwood bark against a center pole. Inland, the houses were larger pole-framed, tule-thatched circular or elliptical dwellings. Other structures included semi-subterranean singing houses for ceremonies and councils and smaller pit sweat houses.

The Pomo were divided into tribelets, each composed of extended family groups of between 100 and 2,000 people. Generally autonomous, each tribelet had its own recognized territory. One or more hereditary, generally male, minor chiefs headed each extended family group.

All such chiefs in a tribelet formed a council or ruling elite, with one serving as head chief, to advise, welcome visitors, preside over ceremonies, and make speeches on correct behavior. Groups made regular military and trade alliances between themselves and with non-Pomos. A great deal of social control was achieved through a shared set of beliefs. 

The Pomo ranked individuals according to wealth, family background, achievement, and religious affiliation. Most professions, such as chief, shaman, or doctor, required a sponsor and were affiliated with a secret society. The people recognized many different types of doctors. Bear doctors, for instance, who could be male or female, could acquire extraordinary power to move objects, poison, or cure.

The position was purchased from a previous bear doctor and required much training. Names were considered private property.

Boys, who were taught certain songs throughout their childhoods, were presented with a hair net and a bow and arrow around age 12.

For girls, the onset of puberty was a major life event, with confinement to a menstrual hut and various restrictions and instructions.


The Pomo were hunter gatherers who practiced both hunting and fishing, but fish were their primary source of protein. Blue gill fish and bread and other foods made from ground acorns were their primary foods. They also gathered many other roots and berries, and also ate the tule leaves and roots.

 The Pomo mainly ate seven kinds of acorns. They hunted deer, elk, antelope, fowl, and small game. Gathered foods included buckeyes, pepperwood nuts, various greens, roots, bulbs, and berries. Most foods were dried and stored for later use. Coastal groups considered dried seaweed a delicacy. In some communities the good food sources were privately owned.

Clear Lake Pomo were also involved in long distance trading networks. Pomo people traded with the Coast Miwok for clamshells and other shells. These would be used for beads and basket embellishments. Magnesite and obsidian, prevalent in the Lake County area from ancient volcanic activity, were traded in exchange.

The Pomo participated in a vast northern California trade group. Both clamshell beads and magnesite cylinders served as money. People often traded some deliberately overproduced items for goods that were at risk of becoming scarce. One group might throw a trade feast, after which the invited group was supposed to leave a payment. These kinds of arrangements tended to mitigate food scarcities.

Coastal residents crossed to islands on driftwood rafts bound by vegetal fiber. The Clear Lake people used boats of tule bound with split grape leaves.

Poaching (trespass), poisoning, kidnapping or murder of women or children (usually for transgressing property lines), or theft constituted most reasons for warfare. Pomos occasionally formed military alliances among contiguous villages.

Warfare began with ritual preparation, took the form of both surprise attacks and formal battles, and could end after the first casualty or continue all the way to village annihilation. Women and children were sometimes captured and adopted.

Chiefs of the fighting groups arranged a peace settlement, which often included reparations paid to the relatives of those killed. Hunting or gathering rights might be lost or won as a result of a battle.

They made weapons of stone, bone, and wood.

Economy Today:

Pomo country is still relatively poor. People engage in seasonal farm work as well as skilled and unskilled work. Some work with federal agencies, and some continue to hunt and gather their food. 

Religion, Dances & Spiritual Beliefs:

Pomo myths involve stories of creationism that center around a healer spirit named Kukso or Gukso, various spirits that embody the six cardinal directions, and the spirit of the Coyote, which is their central god. The religion the Pomo practice is shamanism in relation to the coyote spirit.

The Kuksu cult was a secret religious society, in which members impersonated a god (kuksu) or gods in order to obtain supernatural power. Members observed ceremonies in colder months to encourage an abundance of wild plant food the following summer.

Dances, related to curing, group welfare, and/or fertility, were held in special earth-covered dance houses and involved the initiation of 10- to 12-year-old boys into shamanistic, ritual, and other professional roles. All initiates constituted an elite secret ceremonial society, which conducted most ceremonies and public affairs.

Secular in nature, and older than the Kuksu cult, the ghost-impersonating ceremony began as an atonement for offenses against the dead but evolved into the initiation of boys into the Ghost Society (adulthood). A very intense and complex ceremony, especially among the Eastern Pomo, it ultimately became subsumed into the Kuksu cult.

The Bole-Maru in turn grew out of the Ghost Dances of the 1870s. The leader was a dreamer, and a doctor, who intuited new rules of ceremonial behavior. Originally a revivalistic movement like the Ghost Dance, this highly structured, four-day dance ceremony incorporated a dualistic worldview and thus helped Indians to step more confidently into a Christian-dominated society.

Other ceremonies included a women’s dance, a celebration of the ripening of various crops, and a spear dance (Southeastern, involving the ritual shooting of boys). Shamans were healing or ceremonial professionals. They warded off illness, which was thought to be caused by ghosts or poisoning, from individuals as well as the community.

Doctors (mostly men) were a type of curing specialist, who specialized in herbalism, singing, or sucking.

Burial Customs:

The dead were cremated after four days of lying in state. Gifts, and occasionally the house, were cremated along with the body. 

Wedding and Marriage Customs:

 Pomos often married into neighboring villages. The two families arranged a marriage, although the couple was always consulted (a girl was not forced into marriage but could not marry against the wishes of her family). Methods of population control included birth control, abortion, sexual restrictions, infanticide, and occasionally geronticide.


Famous Pomo Chiefs and Leaders:


Catastrophic Events:

An outbreak of smallpox in 1837 devastated the Pomo population.
1850 Bloody Island Massacre at Clear Lake.

Tribe History:

Many great tribes lived around Clearlake, one of the largest masses of natural water in an area so beautiful and pristine that many tribes would make a pilgrimage to the area to heal themselves in the rich mineral springs and to fish in the large freshwater lake. Natural geysers, rich minerals, fauna and fish, and abundant game were all found in this area. The tribes around Clearlake were rich in everything.

For thousands of years, the Southeastern Pomo consisting of the Elem, the Cignom, the Koi, and Komdot lived in peace. It was a matriarchal system, which perhaps stopped a lot of warring amongst them, built consensus, and brought about immense prosperity and longevity.

In recent times, having lost control over 2 million acres of pristine land, 50 miles of lake shoreline, their matriarchal system, the language, and their culture, all that remains of the Elem Nation is a population of 250 of which only 80 have chosen to stay on the grounds of the Elem Nation Colony which is about 50 acres.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs calls them the Elem Indian Colony and states that they live on land surrounded by a Superfund site – the Sulfur Bank Rancharia.

They do not eat fish from the lake as it is contaminated with mercury. They drink bottled water even though water is abundant in the area.

Still, many members of this tribe who live on the reservation suffer from cancer and other diseases brought about by coming into contact with contaminants – some so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency has put them on the Superfund List, which includes the most toxic sites in the US.

The Elem Pomo tribe dates its history back to about 6000 B.C., and as it perfected the arts of bluegill fishing, making bread from acorns and weaving watertight baskets with bullrush and willow strands, it came to occupy 80,000 acres around the lake. Pomos also carved highly abstract petroglyphs beginning about 1600.

However, the advent of white settlers in the 1800s brought the usual displacement crises, the most notorious being the 1850 Bloody Island Massacre at Clear Lake – in which 200 Elem Pomo and other Indians were killed by the U.S. Army. The massacre was in retaliation for the slaying of white ranchers Andrew Kelsey and Charles Stone, who were killed by Pomo braves retaliating for the pair’s enslavement and rape of local Indians.

Before the 1840’s some 3000 Pomo peoples lived in 30 villages around Clear Lake. Life changed dramatically when ranchers like Charles Stone and Andrew Kelsey captured and bought hundreds of Pomo, forcing them to work as slaves on a large ranch. Tribal historian William Benson reported later in his diaries: “From severe whippings, four died.

A nephew of an Indian lady who was forced to live with Stone (as his whore) was shot to death by Stone. When a father or mother of a young girl was asked to bring the girl to his house [for sex] by Stone or Kelsey, if this order was not obeyed , he or she would be hung up by the hands and whipped.”

Kelsey also forced Pomo men into the mountains as virtual slaves to help him look for gold. Eventually Shak and Xasis, two Pomo cowboys, took the law into their own hands and executed both settlers, prompting the other Pomos to flee to the north end of the lake and up to the Russian River in Mendocino County.

In May 1850, the United States Army, led by Nathaniel Lyon, arrived to find the former slaves. Unable to find them, they ransacked Pomo villages.

A Pomo oral history says, “The white warriors went across in their long dugouts. The Indians said they would meet them in peace so when the whites landed the Indians went to welcome them … Ge-Wi-Lih said he threw up his hand … but the white man fired and shot him in the arm … An old woman said when they gathered the dead, they found all the little ones were killed by being stabbed and many of the women were also killed by stabbing … this old lady also told about how the whites hung a man on the Emerson Island … and a large fire built under him. And another … was tied to a tree and burnt to death,” records a Pomo history.

The following year, on August 18, 1851, Redick McKee, a federal Indian agent, arrived at Clear Lake, to negotiate a treaty of ‘Peace and Friendship’ with eight chiefs of the Native community, under which the community gave up title to their land in exchange for 10 head of cattle, three stacks of bread and sundry clothing.

In the News:

Further Reading:

The Pomo of Lake County (Images of America: California)
Pomo Indian Basketry (Classics in California Anthropology)
Pomo Indians: Myths And Some Of Their Sacred Meanings
Ceremonies of the Pomo Indians and Pomo Bear Doctors  

Elk Valley Rancheria
Ely Shoshone Tribe of Nevada
Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota
Forest County Potawatomi Community
Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana
Fort Bidwell Indian Community of the Fort Bidwell Reservation of California
Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians of the Fort Independence Reservation
Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California, and Nevada
Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation
Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Greenville Rancheria
Grindstone Indian Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki Indians of California
Guidiville Rancheria of California