Naturalist Guide: Manchester Band of Pomo Indians

The Indigenous people in the Point Arena area were called the Bokeya, a triblet of the Pomo. In pre-contact times, the Bokeya territory spanned about 300 square miles from the Navarro to the Gualala rivers and extended into the coastal mountains towards Yorkville. Their population ranged between 350 to 1,200 people who lived in 3 to 5 village communities. One of their largest villages was located at the mouth of the P’da Hau River (currently called the Garcia).

Neither the Spanish mission system, which extended to Sonoma County, or the Russian colonization of coastal Sonoma and Mendocino Counties had a major impact on the Bokeya. However, when the Mexican Republic gave Rafael Garcia a large tract of their land in 1844, the Band’s way of life started to drastically change. Diseases, slave raids, and warfare decimated their population. In 1850 the United States took over California, and the displacement of the Bokeya and erosion of their culture continued. The U.S. Government moved the Band onto a reserve in Fort Bragg in 1856. When the reserve closed 11 years later, many Bokeya returned to their homeland only to find it occupied by farmers and ranchers.

In 1902, the Northern California Indian Association (NCIA) helped the Band purchase a small amount of land and create the Manchester Reserve along the Garcia River. The NCIA discovered that the U.S. Government had signed treaties that promised several California Indian Tribes reservations, but the treaties were never ratified and were being kept secret. After several years of investigation, the NCIA found copies of the treaties and used them to pressure Congress into fulfilling its obligations by purchasing tracts of land for the Tribes. Because of this work, the Bureau of Indian Affairs added additional acreage to the Manchester Reserve and put the land in a trust that is owned by the Bokeya. Around 1940, the Band purchased an additional 254 acres for a dairy farm operation, which was active until the late 1960s. The Bokeya are now called the Manchester Band of Pomo Indians and their historic connection to the land continues to this day.

tribal member showing students seaweed
Tribal members share knowledge of the ocean and land with students during ACORN’s field studies.

Central Pomo Language: Local Flora & Fauna

  • Red Abalone: k’əš
  • Purple Urchin: qaṭi:ṭ’
  • Bullwhip Kelp: kaiyéholo
  • Sea Palm: t’a:kohai
  • Gooseneck Barnacles: ča:šó (“pigs feet”)
  • California Mussel: qáw
  • Cabezon: ba:ṭák’ (“bullhead”)
  • Dungeness Crab: k’í: (“crab”)
  • Sea Lion: bo:qá bta:ka (“west water bear”)
  • Harbor Seal: p’iyun
  • Grey Whale: ts’im (“whale”)
  • Silver Spotted Butterfly: ts’a:dáṭ’ (“butterfly”)
  • Pelagic Cormorant: qhyú:
  • Huckleberry: qa:qái
  • Bishop Pine: ša:ǯóm qle
  • Tufted Hairgrass: čʰi:m (“sedge, carex”)
  • Mountain Lion: da:mó:ṭ’
  • Bobcat: da:lóm
  • Coyote: ʔa:wí

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