The settlement of the present Province of San Luis began much before the Spanish conquerors arrived; even before the aborigine michilingües, calchaquíes and ranqueles people converted it into their own territory. Petrogliphs and pictographies found in the cave of Intihuasi speak about human presence before 6.000 years B.C.
Ever since the very discovery of América, the aborigines were dominated by the newcomers. They had to serve them and provide them with their wealth. Not only did viceroys, general captains, governors and boards comply with their governing functions, but they also were instruments of subjugation and alienation of the richness of the soil.
In the times of the Spanish conquest, there were large groups of aborigins in the area of the present Province of San Luis: Huarpes, Comechingones (cave dwellers), Olongastas and Pampas, Michilingües (settlers of the valleys), Calchaquíes and Ranqueles.
The first Spaniards arrived in this territory attracted by the caldén, quebracho and algarrobo and the fauna rich in guanacos, deer and ostriches. Besides, there was a great potential of aborigin manpower, like in many other regions in América, to start colonizing and exploiting these lands.
The Huarpes occupied territories in the three provinces of Cuyo and are the ratial offspring of the Huárpidos. It was their physical features and their kind of culture which the Huarpes inhereted. However, they were later subject to the influences of the Andean peoples, under which their culture was modified and enrichened.
The Huarpes disappeared definitely in the mid XVIII century as a result of their lack of defenses against the illnesses brought by the Europeans; the system imposed by the Spaniards by means of which the aborigines from Cuyo were sent to Chile to work; the bad treatments given to the indians; the cross-breeding, etc.
The Sanavirones called Comechingones to his southern neighbors, that is to say, the aborigines that inhabitted the Conlara area in the Province of San Luis.
These aborigines used to cultivate the land, were hunters and pickers; they used to raise llamas. Their crops consisted in corn, beans, pumpkins, quinoa; they used to hunt guanacos, hares, deer; they used to pick algarrobo and chañar fruit.
The family was the base of the system. Above the family was the parcialidad, which occupied a delimited area. The parcialidades had a headman and when they increased too much in number, they would break up into minor units with a headman of their own, without breaking their bond with the main parcialidad.
Very little remains in San Luis of the ancient cultures. From the Michilingües, we have a legend left: The story of Juana Koslay, daughter of a headman of headmen who married a Spanish officer and devoted herself to teaching the kids of her times.
Although its foundational certificate has been lost, it is believed that its capital was founded on August 25, 1594 by Luis Jufré de Loaysa y Meneses, chief magistrate of Cuyo and that two years after it was abandoned, Martín García Oñez de Loyola, captain general of Chile, founded it again. Then, the city received the name of San Luis de Loyola.
Located at the foot of the Sierras Grandes, by the Chorrillos River, in the point called Punta de los Venados, from which the name of puntanos given to its inhabitants derives.
The full name of the capital city was "San Luis de Loyola Nueva Medina de Río Seco".
San Luis, because Luis was the name of its founder (Luis Jufré); de Loyola in tribute to the captain general of Chile, who commanded Jufré to found the city; and Nueva Medina de Río Seco, because the founder's father had been born in Medina de Río Seco, Spain.