Page 97 - Montecito Journal Glossy Edition Winter Spring 2012/13

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Regardless of its gender, this person’s existence on an island several
miles offshore proved that early Paleo-Indians had some sort of sea-worthy
vessels capable of crossing the Santa Barbara Channel. More importantly,
the discovery of Arlington Springs Man upended the long-held Clovis
First Theory, which maintained that North America was populated by big
game hunters who crossed the Beringia land bridge over the Bering Sea
to Alaska, following their mega-fauna prey to the center of the continent
and then fanning outward. Strong evidence has proven the (now widely
accepted) Coastal Migration Theory as more accurate. The hypothesis
was promulgated as early as 1929, when the Santa Barbara Museum of
Natural History published
Prehistoric Man of the Santa Barbara Coast
anthropologist David Banks Rogers. Contemporary reviewers praised
Rogers’ research as being “the first serious (and... successful) attempt... to
investigate the sequence of aboriginal cultures in southern California.”
Much of Rogers’ research was done on Santa Rosa Island, prompting him
to posit this about the island inhabitants:
“...Whence did these people migrate? This question, probably the
most important one in connection with the study of the islanders, is also
the most difficult to answer... That they were directly derived from Central
Asian stock is strongly indicated... In many ways, their culture much more
closely resembled that of the Aleuts than that of their nearest neighbors...
leads me to believe that we have, in the Canalino, representatives of a race
which had, for many generations, clung to the coastal islands, in the long
migration from northeastern Asia.”
Whether called Cañalino or Chumash, the tantalizing clues left
behind by Santa Rosa Island’s first inhabitants, as well as its early fauna,
have provided much fodder for exploration and speculation by those who
came later. Spanish settlers, British explorers, missionaries, sheep ranchers,
cattlemen, military personnel, archeologists, botanists, entomologists,
aviators, preservationists, and tourists – each, in their turn, have
experienced a different aspect of this special island. But their tales must
wait... for the next part of this story.
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