BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Secretary Deb Haaland of the United States Department of the Interior has approve the decision to place a 320-acre homeland parcel in Metler, California in trust for the Tejon Indian Tribe. Additionally, the Department of the Interior has approved a compact between the Tribe and the State of California that will govern Class III gaming on that parcel of homeland.
This authorization clears the way for the Tejon Tribe to develop the parcel of land for the benefit of the 1,200 tribal members. 52 acres of the parcel will be developed into a resort hotel and casino, while the remaining acreage will be developed for other tribal purposes, including a healthcare facility, administrative offices, and housing for tribal members.
“The Tejon Tribe is thankful for and honored by these historic steps taken by the Department of Interior. We, the Tejon Indian Tribe, descendants of the proud Kitanemuk people, extend a heartfelt thank you to Secretary Haaland, Assistant Secretary for 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 accomplish our shared vision of a homeland for the Tribe that will provide opportunity for all residents of the County,” said Octavio Escobedo III, Chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe.
Land that is 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 membership and surrounding Kern County. The proposal for the land to be taken into trust was supported by the Kern County Board of Supervisors and California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Ally Soper, Chief Communications Officer with the Kern County Administrative Office, says the project will create more than 1,000 construction jobs in the short term, as well as nearly 4.000 new permanent direct and indirect jobs once it is completed. Soper says the county expects the new hotel and casino to generate a $60 million dollars in paying jobs.
According to Soper, the construction and operation of the resort is subject to a local hiring provision that requires at least half of its employees to come from Kern County communities. The goal of this provision is to fill all available positions with local workers.
The project in its entirety is projected to generate an additional $85 million dollars in additional revenue through both direct and indirect compensation, and an estimated $275.8 million dollars in direct and indirect sales on a yearly basis.
In an email to 23ABC, Soper congratulates the Tribe on their hard work coming to fruition and thanks the Tribe for their contributions to the community.
"Additionally," Soper's email reads, "we'd like to thank our county's state legislative delegation for their hard work on this project, along with our governor for signing off on it. We look forward to breaking ground soon!"