What is now Novato was originally the site of several Coast Miwok villages: Chokecherry, near downtown Novato; Puyuku, near Ignacio; and Olompali, at the present-day Olompali State Historic Park.
In 1839, the Mexican government granted the 8,876-acre Rancho Novato to Fernando Feliz. The rancho was named after a local Miwok leader who had probably been given the name of Saint Novatus at his baptism. Subsequently, four additional land grants were made in the area: Rancho Corte Madera de Novato, to John Martin in 1839; Rancho San Jose, to Ignacio Pacheco in 1840; Rancho Olompali, awarded in 1843 to Camilo Ynitia, son of a Coast Miwok chief; and Rancho Nicasio, by far the largest at 56,621 acres, awarded to Pablo de la Guerra and John B.R. Cooper in 1844. Novato, along with the rest of California, became part