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Federal government agrees to place land in trust for the benefit of the Tejon Tribe

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – Secretary Deb Haaland of the United States Department of the Interior has approved a decision to place a 320-acre parcel of native land in Metler, Calif., in trust for the Tejon Indian Tribe. Additionally, the Department of the Interior has approved a pact between the tribe and the State of California that will govern Class III gaming on this piece of territory.

This permission paves the way for the Tejon Tribe to develop the parcel of land for the benefit of the 1,200 tribe members. 52 acres of the parcel will be developed into a resort hotel and casino, while the remaining area will be developed for other tribal purposes, including a health facility, administrative offices and housing for tribal members.

“The Tejon Tribe is grateful and honored by these historic actions taken by the Department of the Interior. We, the Tejon Indian Tribe, descendants of the proud Kitanemuk people, extend our heartfelt thanks to Secretary Haaland, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland and staff for their cumulative efforts in taking these important steps. The Tribe also thanks its partner and friend, Kern County, throughout this long process. The Tribe and County will work together to achieve our vision community of a homeland for the tribe that will provide opportunities for all county residents,” said Octavio Escobedo III, president of the Tejon Indian Tribe.

Land taken into trust by the federal government is governed by the tribe, allowing it to benefit from federal programs that protect tribal sovereignty while creating economic opportunities for its members and surrounding Kern County. The land trust proposal was backed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Ally Soper, director of communications for the Kern County Administrative Office, says the project will create more than 1,000 near-term construction jobs, as well as nearly 4,000 new direct and indirect permanent jobs when complete. Soper says the county expects the new hotel and casino to generate $60 million in paid employment.

According to Soper, the construction and operation of the station is subject to a local hire provision that requires that at least half of its employees come from Kern County communities. The purpose of this provision is to fill all available positions with local workers.

The entire project is expected to generate $85 million in additional revenue through direct and indirect compensation, and approximately $275.8 million in direct and indirect sales on an annual basis.

In an email to 23ABC, Soper commends the tribe for their hard work and thanks them for their contribution to the community.

“Additionally,” the email from Soper reads, “we would like to thank our County State Legislative Delegation for their hard work on this project, and our Governor for approving it. We can’t wait to get started soon!”