A Brief Description of Cultural Resources on Santa Rosa Island (wima)

Although the earliest date of arrival of humans on the Northern Channel Islands is not known with certainty, human remains discovered in 1959 at Arlington Springs on Santa Rosa Island have been dated to more than 13,000 years of age, among the oldest dated human remains in North America. When Europeans first arrived on the Santa Rosa Island they found approximately eight Chumash villages supporting more than 600 inhabitants. Santa Rosa Island was home to the Chumash until approximately 1820, and as a result the island contains thousands of significant and federally protected archeological sites. The traditional Chumash name for the island is wima which means driftwood. In addition to the native Chumash, European explorers, Aleut sea otter hunters, Chinese abalone fisherman, Spanish missionaries, Mexican and American Ranchers, and the US military have all occupied Santa Rosa Island. By the early nineteenth century the ownership was the subject of several claims and counterclaims until it was purchased by the Vail and Vickers in 1902. Access to Santa Rosa Island was limited until the National Park Service purchased the island in 1986. Many aspects of the island’s unique cultural history and archaeology are currently under study through the partnership between National Park Service and the CI Santa Rosa Island Research Station.  

*Taking from or disturbing archeological and cultural sites and their artifacts is a violation of state and federal law. If you find yourself upon a shell midden site, please act respectfully and remove yourself from the area. Do not pick up or take photos of any artifacts seen.*

*Photo credit: Monica Pereira

To obtain a more detailed description of the human history of the California Channel Islands please see the Channel Island National Park Archeological Overview and  Assessment (PDF, 2.5MB) and the Channel Island National Park Timeline  (PDF, 5.5MB)