Posted on: June 14, 2022, 04:59h.
Last updated on: June 14, 2022, 05:53h.
California’s Tejon Indian Tribe has signed a compact with the state’s Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom. The agreement puts the state seal of approval on the tribe’s reservation, the first time it has had a sovereign homeland in more than 150 years.
It also establishes the terms for the tribe’s gaming rights on those lands, a decade after it attained federal recognition.
In June 2019, the Tejon announced it had partnered with Hard Rock International in a development and operating deal for a $600 million casino resort, just south of Bakersfield.
Tejon Tribe Chair Octavio Escobedo III said in a statement at the time that Hard Rock, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, had “stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us to help make our dream of restoring our land base a close-at-hand reality.”
First California Reservation
The Hard Rock Tejon will feature a casino with slot machines and table games, a 400-room hotel, RV park, numerous restaurants, a convention center, entertainment venue, and spa.
Once completed, the project will create over 4,900 jobs, according to the tribe.
The original Tejon Indian reservation, established in 1853, was the first Native American reservation in California. But it was dissolved in 1864. Many of its inhabitants were forcibly relocated at gunpoint to the Tule River reservation in Tulare County.
In 2015, the Tejon tribe applied to have a 306-acre parcel of land around 25 minutes south of Bakersfield taken into trust by the federal government. The application was signed off by the outgoing Trump administration in January 2021.
Some 52 acres of the site will be devoted to the resort hotel and casino. The rest will be used for administrative offices, a health care facility, housing, and other supporting infrastructure.
“These decisions were necessary and significant steps toward the development of a tribal homeland for our Tribe, which has been landless for more than 150 years,” Escobedo III said in a statement Monday.
“Self-determination has been a priority since the Tribe was affirmed and federally recognized. From the start of our relationships with the United States government in 1851, our Tribe has fought for a homeland for our people,” he continued.
Today, Governor Newsom made that dream a reality by moving the Tribe closer to the promise of self-determination through economic development and prosperity for its 1,200 members,” he added.
As part of the deal, Kern County will receive nearly $218 million in revenue over a 20-year period. The Hard Rock Tejon project is broadly supported by local government officials and the public.