We are the only Tribe that is currently recognized in Kern County.
After our Tejon Tribal leaders spent more than a decade petitioning the federal government for recognition, we finally received Tribal re-affirmation in January 2012.
That re-affirmation allows our Tribe to help our members, and to focus on strengthening opportunities for health care, education, quality housing, and economic development.
Earning federal re-affirmation was a watershed moment for the Tejon Tribe. This federal status is one the Tejon Tribe should have possessed long ago. The Bakersfield Californian newspaper has called it “a centuries-long tale of justice deferred.”
Re-affirmation now opens many doors for us. It gives us the authority and the standing to act as a sovereign government, and reach inter-governmental agreements with the state and county. It also enables us to receive and allocate state and federal resources, and fund our government.
Most importantly, re-affirmation allows us to care for our own people. It gives us the resources we need to provide housing, food, medicine, job training, education and more for our Tribe.
As a federally-recognized sovereign Indian nation, a tribe is an independent nation with the right to form its own government, adjudicate legal cases within its borders (with exceptions), levy taxes within its borders, establish membership, zone within its borders, and exclude persons from tribal lands.
In 1961, the U.S. Department of the Interior had investigated the 880 acres which had been withdrawn from public domain for the Tribe back in 1916. The department found the land was poor quality and located on steep hillsides. They determined it was unusable by the Tribe, and put the land back into public domain in 1962.
In 1979, the Department of Interior started preparing a list of federally recognized tribes, but the Tejon Tribe was omitted. The federal government didn’t give an explanation, but it’s thought that only tribes with federally-protected land bases were included on the list, and the Tejon Tribe had no land base at the time.
The U.S. government has stated the Tejon Tribe was improperly omitted from the list of sovereign tribes due to an “administrative error.” In 2000, our Tribe started work to correct this error.
It was January 3, 2012, when our Tejon Indian Tribe was finally confirmed as a federally recognized Indian tribe. In addition to the acknowledgement that comes with federal recognition, this re-affirmation also brings the opportunity for funding to create and sustain programs for medical, housing, and educational assistance.
The Tejon Tribe opened an office in Bakersfield in May 2012. Ownership of the original Tejon land is now held by the Tejon Ranch Company, which is engaged in farming, mining, and land development.