National | Federal Recognition

Bureau of Indian Affairs designates service area for Tejon Tribe






Kern County in California. Photo: Tejon Indian Tribe

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved a service area for the Tejon Tribe.

According to a notice that will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, the entirety of Kern County in California is designated as the service area. Tribal headquarters are located in the cities of Wasco and Bakersfield, both in the county.

"This notice designates Kern County, in the State of California, as the service area appropriate for the provision of BIA financial assistance and/or social services for the Tejon Indian Tribe," the forthcoming notice states. The Indian Health Service also considers the county to be the tribe's service area.

The tribe does not yet have a reservation but is following the land-into-trust process as it pursues a casino in the county. There's been little movement on the environmental impact statement since August 2015.

The tribe was added to the list of federally recognized entities in January 2012. According to Larry Echo Hawk, the former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, the tribe had been left off due to an "administrative error" at the BIA.

Even though Echo Hawk's decision was lawful, it came under fire in a 2013 report from the Office of Inspector General at the Interior Department. The report said he took action without following any sort of "discernible process."

The BIA has since adopted a policy that requires all groups seeking recognition, clarification or affirmation of their status to follow the federal recognition process.

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Service Area Designation (To Be Published May 18, 2017)

Department of the Interior Inspector General Report:
Investigative Report of the Tejon Indian Tribe (Released April 2013)

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Tejon Tribe to hold inaugural powwow after gaining recognition (September 24, 2015)
BIA adopts new policy regarding federal recognition process (June 30, 2015)
Recently recognized Tejon Tribe to close enrollment next month (August 22, 2014)
IHS approves service areas for three newly recognized tribes (September 11, 2013)
DOI backs Larry Echo Hawk's decision to recognize Tejon Tribe (May 2, 2013)
OIG report slams Larry Echo Hawk for handling of Tejon case (May 1, 2013)
Tejon Indian Tribe to start preparing for future as newest tribe (January 4, 2012)
BIA places Tejon Indian Tribe back on list of recognized tribes (January 3, 2012)