The islands are part of the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. While native people first used this land about 12,000 years ago, permanent settlements were relatively uncommon until the last several hundred. Archaeological remains of villages, camps, and processing sites are found throughout the monument. By 1852, American settlers had established homesteads on the San Juan Islands, some of which remain today. Two late 19th Century light stations and their associated buildings are located in the new National Monument: Patos Island Light Station and Turn Point Light Station.