The tribe secured casino access earlier this month through Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney of the U.S. Department of Interior. Sweeney handed down approval during the final weeks of the Donald Trump presidency.
“From the start of our relationship with the United States government in 1851, our Tribe has fought for a homeland for our people. Today we are two major steps closer to that dream,” Octavio Escobedo III, chairman of the Tejon Tribe, said in a statement, recorded by The Bakersfield Californian. “The Department’s decision enables us to move closer to the promise of self-determination through economic development.”
The Tejon Tribe now must wait on approval from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who must sign off on the federal government’s decision.
The Hard Rock Casino Tejon will be built in Kern County, approximately 14 miles south of Bakersfield. The casino floor is expected to encompass 166,000 square feet, and the property will also include a 300-400 room hotel, spa, convention space, RV park and restaurants, as first reported by The Bakersfield Californian.
The Hard Rock brand is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which granted the Tejon Tribe permission to incorporate its name. The Tejon Tribe was federally recognized in 2012.