NewsCovering Kern County


New Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will bring jobs, revenue to Kern County

Tejon Tribe Hard Rock
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 00:45:50-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County getting its own Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has been years in the making but to the Tejon Indian Tribe getting Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval of the project will lead to something they’ve been awaiting, for centuries.

With state ratification of the compact, the Tejon Indian Tribe will finally get their first reservation.

According to a letter from Governor Newsom, 320 acres of land are within the 763,000-acre reservation that would have been designated to the Tejon Indian Tribe and other signatory tribes, if the United States had ratified a treaty with them in 1850.

"The Mettler Site is located in unincorporated Kern County, approximately four miles southwest of a 10-acre parcel held in trust for the Tribe and used as a government and community center. It is within the boundaries of a 7 63,000-acre reservation that would have been established had the United States ratified an 1851 treaty negotiated with the Tribe and other signatory tribes. It is also within 10 miles of the Tribe's former villages and an area referred to by federal officials, but never formally established, as the Tejon reservation," said Newsom in his letter to Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs.

The tribe's current 1,200 members will have land off Highway 99 near the 166 Mettler Exit, for tribal administrative offices, a health care facility, housing, and other facilities. And 52 of those acres will go toward the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tejon.

“We, the Tejon Indian Tribe of the Kitanemuk nation, extend a heartfelt thank you to Governor Newsom and his staff for their efforts in approving our two-part application for gaming eligibility and the tribal-state gaming compact. This has been a long but worthwhile journey for the Tribe,” said Octavio Escobedo III, Chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe in an earlier statement. “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. Self-determination has been a priority since the Tribe was affirmed and federally recognized. From the start of our relationship with the United States government in 1851, our Tribe has fought for a homeland for our people."

Governor signs agreement with Tejon Indian Tribe

“It really is this collective sigh, this big breath that we’ve been holding and now we’re just elated and ready to move through and do the work," says Sandra Hernandez, treasurer for the Tejon Indian Tribe. "Getting to this day is only by the work of our ancestors. There are countless letters and communications that happened, throughout different periods of time, where not only our tribal members but all those within our local community, where advocating and speaking on behalf of us.”

Kern County CAO Ryan says the county has a local agreement with the Tejon Indian Tribe and Hard Rock International worth $220 million over the next 20 years. This will also create 5000 jobs for the county both entry-level and managerial. Onsite, there will also be a new fire and sheriff substation.

"We're really excited for the Tejon Tribe and their members. This is an extraordinary thing for them," said Alsop. "And we can't be more excited for them. All of us owe them, a big thank you for all of the work they've done to bring this here to Kern County."

“This is much more than just a casino, this is a catalyst project in many ways for the county. But think about having the Hard Rock International brand on your resume, in the entertainment and hospitality industry. What a great start. What a great experience that’s going to be available to our local residents.”

Alsop says the county hopes to complete construction in 12 to 18 months.

Letter to DOI for the Concurrence 1