Tejon Tribe anticipates lengthy process for casino in California

The Tule River Tribe hosted the Tejon Tribe in August. Tejon Chairwoman Kathryn Montes Morgan is seen in the front row, third from left. Tule River Chairman Neil Peyron is first from left on the back row. Photo from Tule River Newsletter

The Tejon Tribe plans to open a casino on ancestral territory in California but the process will likely take years, officials said.

The tribe filed a land-into-trust application for 306 acres in Kern County. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is preparing an environmental impact statement for the project but there's no timeline for a decision.

“The Tejon Tribe has been landless for over 100 years,” Chairwoman Kathryn Montes Morgan said at a public scoping meeting last week, The Bakersfield Californian reported, “We can stand and look across I-5 and see our traditional homeland.”

A BIA official said the process could be complete by the end of 2016, the paper reported. But the tribe still has to negotiate an agreement with the county and a Class III gaming compact with the state.

An aerial view of the land where the Tejon Tribe plans to open a casino and a hotel. The 306 acres located in an undeveloped area immediately west of the town of Mettler. The tribe's properties are bordered by Maricopa Highway to the south and S Sabodan St on the east. Image from Google Maps

A notice published in the Federal Register on August 13 outlines plans for an initial 250,000 square-foot casino, to be followed by a hotel with up to 300 rooms in a second phase. Comments on the scoping report are being accepted until September 14.

The draft EIS will come first, to be followed by more public meetings before a final EIS can be issued. After that, the BIA will make a record of decision on the project.

“This is the very beginning stage of a very long process,” Morgan said last week, the Californian reported.

The BIA placed the tribe back on the list of federally recognized entities in January 2012.

Get the Story:
Tejon Indian Tribe casino project begins environmental review (The Bakersfield 9/9)

Federal Register Notices:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Tejon Indian Tribe's Proposed Trust Acquisition and Casino Project, Kern County, California (August 13, 2015)
Hearing Process Concerning Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (August 13, 2015)
Requests for Administrative Acknowledgment of Federal Indian Tribes (July 1, 2015)

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