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Native Americans from the Fernando–Tataviam, Chumash–Venturino and Chumash–Venturano tribes lived in the area for approximately 8,000 years. They lived in the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, and near the Arroyo Calabasas River in Woodland Hills. Portola Expedition, a Spanish expedition that explored Alta California in search of Spanish missions and settlement sites, was the first European to reach the San Fernando Valley. The oak savanna was what inspired them to name the area El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos after they saw it from Sepulveda Pass. In 1797, the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana established control over the valley's land, which included the future Woodland Hills.
The ownership of the southern half of the valley, southwest of Roscoe Boulevard, from Toluca Lake up to Woodland Hills, was first held by Americans in the 1860s by Isaac Lankershim in 1869. James Boon Lankershim followed by Isaac Lankershim's son Isaac Lankershim and Isaac Newton Van Nuys. Finally, in the "biggest land deal ever recorded in Los Angeles County", Harry Chandler, Hobart Johnstone Whitley, General Moses Sherman, and others led by Harry Chandler, Los Angeles Times, Harry Chandler