Successive Native American cultures inhabited this area for thousands of years. Villages were founded near desert oases and tribespeople harvested desert plants for food, medicine and building materials, as well as hunted wildlife such as bighorn sheep. Starting in the mid-19th century, miners and ranchers arrived.
This area was also the birthplace of the California desert-conservation movement, when a Southern belle called Minerva Hamilton Hoyt founded the International Deserts Conservation League and campaigned until President Franklin D Roosevelt created Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. The 1994 California Desert Protection Act turned it into a national park.