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The area was originally inhabited by Yokuts and Mono Native American tribes. European exploration into the area was first recorded in 1776, when Spanish missionary Father Francisco Garcés entered the Tehachapi Valley and named the region "El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos". He established twenty-one missions along a route through San Joaquin Valley from Mission San José to the Monterey Bay. In 1843, Rancho del Arroyo Chico was granted to Francisco Alviso; he named it after his friend, Jose Maria Amador. The grant included Rancho Arroyos Chico (Little Creek), El Rincon (the corner or point), La Sierra Azul (the blue hills) and Rodeo Lagoon – . After Frémont's death in 1846, Alvisa sold most of his land holdings between Merced River on northward over to Fresno Creek including all of present day Bakersfield except for that which would become known as 'Ranchito Del Oso' later called Oak Knoll).