Research has established extensive trade routes to other areas in what is now the Western USA. The most recent original inhabitants (5000 years ago) are from the Migueleno Salinan culture. Permanent settlements existed in the general area as shown on maps by Robert O. Gibson, displayed at the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum. One such settlement, Tixja, is located on the map approximately 7 miles southeast of the San Miguel Mission - that would place it near where the current Paso Robles airport is located. Mission records indicate 50 baptisms occurred at this settlement.
San Miguel Mission records mention a Chumash village known as Ksosquiquie or alternately as Santa Ysabel. Twenty six people from that village were baptized between 1790 and 1804. The exact location of this village has not been determined, other than it has been described by Gibson as being just north of Atascadero. It is not clear if this village was located on the current Santa Ysabel Ranch Development property, but based on recent finds (see below) that is a possibility.
Archaeological surveys conducted in 1999/2002 on neighboring Santa Ysabel Ranch Development identified 14 prehistoric sites containing abundant evidence of the presence of native peoples on that parcel. Radiocarbon dating indicates that occupation of these sites date back to approximately 9,000 YBC (Years Before Current). An occupation that lasted (probably off and on) through the Mission Period. This makes the Santa Ysabel site among the oldest known in Central California. The early people are classified as belonging to the Millingstone Period (10,000 - 5,500 YBC), later occupations are allocated to the Early Period (5,500 - 2,600 YBC) and the Middle Period (2,600 - 1,000 YBC). Artifacts dating from each of these periods have been recovered, giving insight into the long-term occupation of this area by the early inhabitants.
The over 800 archaeological finds from the Santa Ysabel Ranch Development include millingstones, handstones, projectile points, mortars and pestles, bone tools as well as shell and stone beads. The middens (essentially domestic waste dumps) contain evidence of the people’s dietary regime, remains of small and medium sized mammals such as squirrels, rabbits, coyotes and deer, as well as the remains of a variety of birds and shellfish were encountered.
Not so common, remains of grizzly bear and elk were also found among the midden debris. The milling stones point to seed collection/grinding and the mortars to acorn grinding as part of the population's food processing activities.
There is evidence of trade activities with other locations; several quartz crystals, ocean snail beads and the obsidian used on some of the projectile points all point to non-local sources. The Archaeological finds locatesĘthe main settlement area on a terrace overlooked the Salinas River, a quite large camping area near the Hot Springs and several “day use” areas scattered across the parcel. The latter are typically associated with a few individuals creating stone or obsidian tools away from the village area in order to keep people from stepping on the sharp waste flakes. A comfortable location with a good view of game trails for spotting the next meal would be selected for these short-term work areas.