Research about the genesis of the coastal towns of Cananea, Iguape, Sao Vicente, Santos, Sao Sebastiao and Ubatuba, in the current state of Sao Paulo, demonstrates the significant contribution of indigenous societies to colonial occupation. These communities were here a few centuries before the Europeans arrived. They chose the Atlantic coast as their habitat, establishing their settlements in particular ecological niches. These choices were used as guidelines for the new colonial towns. A recurring process symbolizes this cultural encounter between indigenous and Europeans: the positioning of the new churches in line with well established indigenous rights of way.