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The Sebastian Indian Reservation
By: By Jeff Nickell, Assistant Director, Kern County Museum

Topics: indians, Sebastian, reservation, history, Kern County Museum
Posted by kerncountymuseum Tue May 22, 2007 10:22:12 PDT
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The Sebastian Indian Reservation

By Jeff Nickell

 

 The earliest explorers and settlers from Mexico, Spain, and the United States found Native Americans already on the land that would later become Kern County.  The Yokuts Indians, in fact, had been in the San Joaquin Valley for thousands of years.  After gold was found in California, an onslaught of miners and others migrated to California looking to strike it rich by finding gold.  And, others came to provide services to the miners.  With that came a clash of cultures for the land. The result was a decision made by the United States government to create Indian Reservations.  General Edward Beale was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California and Nevada in the spring of 1852.

 

Three reservations were created with one of them being the Sebastian Reservation on what would become part of the Tejon Ranch.  Wallace Morgan indicates in his 1914 History of Kern County that General Beale instituted communal farming on the reservation and established forts with soldiers to protect the Indians, as well as keep them on the reservation and “under proper discipline.”

 

In 1863, most of the Indians from the Sebastian Reservation were relocated to the Tule River Farm and later to the reservation on the South Fork of the Tule River.  General Beale did have several of the Indians stay on the Tejon Ranch and gave them tracts of four or five acres each to farm and call their home.  He employed them as herders, shearers, and farm laborers.  Many families still lived on those tracts of land even after the Beale family sold the ranch in the early 1910s and were still there at the time of the 1952 earthquake.  Lydia Gilbert, later a longtime docent of the Native American school program at the Kern County Museum, was one of those still living on the Tejon property when the earthquake struck.

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