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Finally, in 1769, the land-and-sea expedition of Don Gaspar de Portolà reached Santa Cruz Island.Traveling with him were Father Juan González Vizcaíno and Father Francisco Palóu.Native villagers had no known contact with Europeans until the 16th and early 17th centuries.Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who is credited with the first European exploration of the California coast, observed at least six villages, though he and his crew did not come ashore. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno led the last Spanish expedition to California.
When Mission San Buenaventura was founded across the channel in 1782, it commenced the slow religious conversion of the Santa Cruz Chumash.
The highest peak is Devils Peak, at 2450 feet (747 m).
It was the largest privately owned island off the continental United States but is currently jointly owned by the National Park Service (24%), and the Nature Conservancy (76%).
In 1822, the last of the Chumash left the island for mainland California.
With Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government asserted its control over California.