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Juan Cabrillo - Explorer

The Chumash first encountered the European explorers when Juan Cabrillo ( or Jaoa Cabrilho as some historians believe he was a Portuguese explorer in the services of Spain, who was searching for a new route to China) sailed into the Channel in 1542.

Siting San Clemente and Catalina Islands on October 7th, his ships La Victoria and the San Salvador ( which were the names he first gave to Clemente and Catalina ) dropped anchor first in the Channel at San Pedro Bay on Catalina. His crew had a peaceful exchange with the Pimugans / Gabrielinos on Catalina that day. The next day he headed back towards the mainland, and then chose to continue up the coast and sailed into the Santa Barbara Channel on October 10th.

The Chumash had been hearing of the bearded strangers through traders arriving from the south where Spain had established a colonial empire in Mexico, which was soon to spread into what is now California. Cabrillo and his crew sailed further north, returning to the Channel for the winter. Cabrillo is thought to have died on San Miguel Island or Santa Catalina Island January 3rd, as a result of a shoulder injury he had sustained several months earlier during rough waters off Point Conception ( Devilís Jaws ).

Cabrillos venture onto the mainland included at least two journeys, one to a Chumash village at Gaviota Pass and also to the Santa Barbara location of a village he named Las Canoas ( The Canoes ), as a result of the numerous ocean going vessels he sighted along the shore. He also named other islands he sighted La Possession ( San Miguel ), San Lucas ( Santa Rosa ), San Salvador ( Santa Cruz ) and possibly Victoria (Anacapa ).