BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The 987 members of the Tejon Indian Tribe are celebrating a homecoming, of sorts.
After being "landless" for centuries, mainly due to an unratified treaty, tribe spokesperson Sandra Hernandez said. "Now with this opportunity to get back our land base, we'll have that chance to commune," she added.
The Hard Rock casino and resort is the tribe's first major land acquisition since they became a federally recognized tribe in 2012.
"Without a land base or a central commune to go to, you are like needles in a haystack," Hernandez said.
The fight to get this land took over 20 years, Hernandez said.
In 2016 the tribe approached the Kern County board of supervisors to purchase a school adjacent to where the new casino will be. That was the first time mention of a tribal casino came about.
A group called Kern Families Against Casino Expansion lobbied the supervisors to not support a tribal casino. And for a while, talk of a casino went silent.
"You know Kern County, we already have four card rooms and casinos in our county, so we're no stranger to gambling," Ward 1 supervisor Mick Gleason said, adding that the Hard Rock Casino is "going to be a first class venture."
A triumph of territory, thanks to a partnership with the Seminole tribe of Florida and relentless determination by the Tejon Indian Tribe.