BC students learn about the Tejon Indian Tribe’s history and achievements

Christina Benavides, Copy Editor

Bakersfield College students received and gained new knowledge about The Tejon Indian Tribe during a presentation hosted by representative, Sandra Hernandez in the fireside room on March 6.

The room was full, causing an overspill of students, causing some to stand up in order to hear Hernandez speak about her culture.

As she spoke she went through a PowerPoint presentation and discussed brief history, achievements, and plans

Hernandez explained that her tribe was one of the very first people who lived in California, and that Tejon actually means “Badger” in Spanish.

“When the missionaries came over the grapevine, and they looked at the valley floor there was an enormous amount of badgers everywhere, so it became the land of Tejon, and because we were the people that were next to the badgers, we became the Tejon people,” Hernandez said.

She also added that Tejon Ranch is an indigenous homeland because their ancestors worked on them.

The Tejon Tribe was federally reaffirmed in 2012, added Hernandez. She explains that to this day they are the only ones in Kern County who are.

Hernandez mentioned that during 1940’s to 1960’s it was labeled the termination era, which was when Indian tribes were terminated, and disbanded. Tribes were put on a government list, and if there was not enough of them or they just wanted the land you were on then you were disbanded, she explained.

“This happened to many tribes throughout the state of California, and it did not happen to us, nothing happened to us, we weren’t put on the list, we weren’t kicked off the list,” Hernandez said.

She informed everyone that the government made an error, and they were dropped from the list.

Hernandez added that she thinks of her tribe as a family, and that she believes it’s their duty to insure their children have half of what they didn’t have. She mentioned that the strength they have today from their culture is going to be what drives them in the future.

There was one student who was attending this speaker’s event who was thrilled to learn more about Hernandez, her culture, and her tribe.

Matthew Solito, a fulltime student at BC, decided he would attend out of curiosity. He mentioned that he always drives by Tejon and wanted to know more about it.

“People like us who have always had our culture established, we sometimes take it for granted, and that is what I realized when coming here today,” Solito said.

Towards the end of Hernandez’s presentation, she sang a song derived from The Tejon Indian Tribe, with another member of the tribe. Solito mentioned that it meant a lot to him because he participates in folk dancing, and other cultural traditions in his own culture.

“It was really refreshing to see a different and new perspective a culture that you don’t always hear about,” Solito said.

He mentioned that he believes that this is an event people should all listen to in order to stray away from taking our cultures for granted.