Pomo Calendar

The Calendar Provides Evidence of Seasonal Movement to Gather Resources

Loeb asked Native Americans about the Pomo system of keeping track of time and the seasons.  Their response proved to be the best evidence relating to the seasonal rounds made by the Clear Lake people on their search for resources.  The elder he interviewed indicated that a family would have a hut in each of three places:

  1. A substantial winter house which was lived in during the winter and provided a headquarters during the summer while people made trips to the coast, salt beds and were packing and drying fish.
  2. A house in a settlement on the lakeshore or on a major stream bank which was inhabited for 6 to 8 weeks during the spring fishing season.
  3. A hut in a mountain camp where the village moved in the fall to gather acorns (and probably many of the other upland resources).  The elder indicated that the villagers always went to the same upland location in the fall. (Loeb 1926)

This evidence of population movement was supported by another elder who listed the Clear Lake Pomo calendar and gave examples of how one would talk about the various months or “moons” of the calendar:

The Clear Lake Pomo year begins in the winter. The calendar follows 13 moon cycles which are referred to as follows: [emphasis added]

1st moon (Nov/Dec) “It will be hard to go out and hunt game”

2nd moon (Dec) “The moon after this fish won’t come to shore”

3rd moon (Jan) “The moon after this fish will begin to come out”

4th moon (Feb) “The moon after this better weather, can hunt, fish”

5th moon (Mar) “the moon after this you can get clover”

6th moon (Apr) “The moon after this fish begin to run, we move nearer lake”

7th moon (May) “The moon after this we will be moving back, packing fish”  

8th moon (June) “The moon after this we go to Bodega Bay to get shells”

9th moon (July) “The moon after this we go home and men will be sent out to find good acorn crops”

10th moon (Aug) “The moon after this we will be camping and gathering acorns”

11th moon (Sept) “The moon after this we will still be gathering acorns”

12th moon (Oct) “The moon after this we will finish with acorns, move home and get settled”

13th moon (Nov) “The moon after this we will be settled and resting, nothing to do”

The calendar indicates that during the 6th moon, people are planning to move to the lakeshore during the next month [May] (see the Lakeshore Resource Gathering line on the graph on the “Resource Use” page).

During the 7th moon, people are planning to move back to the main village during June.

In August during the 10th moon, the people are planning to camp to collect acorns in the month of September.  As the calendar reads, September and October will be spent in these upland camps collecting acorns (note the peak in the Upland Resource Procurement line on the graph on the “Resource Use” page).

The four ethnographers listed in this section each used talked to different elders.   This confirms that resource based seasonal population movement was a reality that Clear Lake people had to deal with.