PORTERVILLE, CA – The Tule River Tribe celebrated its 150th anniversary with an event featuring a culture presentation, time capsule, food, music, booths, and a fireworks show at dark.
“Not many people know that this is our third home,” said Neil Peyron, Chairman of the Tule River Tribe. “Our people used to roam the San Joaquin Valley until we were gathered up and taken to the Sebastian Reservation below the City of Bakersfield. From there, we were moved again to the Madden Farm in East Porterville.”
The Tule River reservation was established on Jan. 9, 1873, in Porterville, CA, by executive order by President Ulysses S. Grant.
“In 1876, those who did not want to come up here were forcibly removed from our homes at gunpoint,” said Peyron. “Since then, we have made this a home, and we have turned this into our homeland. We are making this a safe place to raise our children and our families by providing employment and other services to our membership, including police and fire. We have accomplished so much over the last 150 years because of the resiliency and the strength of our people.”
The reservation sits on approximately 55,000 acres in a steep rocky canyon on land unsuitable for agricultural development. Tule River tribal enrollment has more than 1,900 tribal members and offers a myriad of services for its members, including childcare and health care.
The Tule River Tribal Council consists of nine members that serve alternating terms, and the Council acts as the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government for the Tule River Tribe and its members. The Tule River Tribal Council has strived to increase diversification amongst its members and community to ensure success. To accomplish this, the Tule River Tribal Council established numerous departments and services and supplied new jobs to benefit the tribal community and surrounding communities. The departments include: Fire, Education, Natural Resources, Towanits Indian School, Public Works, Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Program, Telecommunications, Emergency Management, Family & Social Services, Public Safety, Environmental, USDA Food Administration, Land Management, Recreation Department, Alcohol Program, Language and Future Generations.
The tribal enterprises include: Eagle Mountain Casino, Landing 13 Restaurant, Stoney Creek Barbeque, and Eagle Feather Trading Post Gas Station and Convenience Stores. The tribe also owns 40 acres in the Porterville Airport Industrial Park and 79.9 acres in the foothill’s scenic development corridor along Highway 190.
“On behalf of the tribe, I want to say congratulations to you, my people, for persevering and doing so well, and we look forward to another 150 years,” said Peyron.
In 2023, the Tule River Tribe will welcome the relocation of Eagle Mountain Casino, which will double in size, growing to over 100,000 sq. ft., featuring new dining options, 1,750 slot machines, 20 table games, and a state-of-the-art event center.
“I am proud to be a part of this momentous occasion, as we celebrate our Sovereignty Day and 150th anniversary of the Tule River Reservation, for my tribe,” said Tiffani Sahagun, Assistant General Manager at Eagle Mountain Casino. “It has been a joy to see our community that started from humble beginnings to what we have accomplished to date. The word Yokuts means ‘The People,’ which is fitting as it took the sacrifices, diligence, and dedication of many people including the leadership of our Tribal Council and elders. Let us also remember and honor those that have passed and are not with us today to celebrate this occasion.”
The new property will feature many of the Tule River Tribe’s memories and treasures throughout the entire property.
“This anniversary is a testament to the Tule River Tribe’s tenacity, determination, and overall strength to overcome all obstacles to take care of its people and the community at large,” said Matthew Mingrone, General Manager at Eagle Mountain Casino. “The Tule River Tribe has demonstrated unbelievable resolve time and time again in their pursuit of self-governance and sovereignty, despite the historic powers that have been impediments against them. It has been my extreme pleasure and honor to work for such a generous and caring group of people.”
The Tule River reservation was established in 1873 in Porterville, CA. Tribal enrollment is just over 1,900 members, and the reservation spans approximately 55,356 acres. The Tule River Yokut Tribe operates the Tule River Health Center, Justice Center, and numerous tribal services within the reservation.