JOHN HARRINGTON JOINS
THE TEJON INDIANS STRUGGLE
TO PRESERVE THEIR CALIFORNIA RESERVATION
By the turn of the century, the Tejon Indians clung onto a remnant number of family homesteads located on the Kootsetahovie creek, south of the American town of Bakersfield at the southern end of California's central.
The local, state, and federal courts had persistently ruled in favor of the non-indian claimants to the Tejon lands. Foremost among these usurpers were the family members of the Indian Agent who claimed vast areas the Tejon Reservation lands immediately after the Tejon treaty was signed in 1851. Soon, American railroads, oil companies, cattle ranchers, eastern settlers interested in farming, and real estate speculators joined in the despoilation of the Tejon Indians lands.
John Harrington, an eccentric staff member of the Smithsonian Institution in the 1920's, began visiting the remaining Tejon Indians to document their languages, myths, family geneaologies, culture, and history. Starting From Corner Eight tells the story of Harrington's first visits to the remote Tejon homesteads. It explains how the destitute native Californians welcomed this stranger into their homes and eventually won him over to their cause, which was to preserve the last of their reservation homesteads and preserve their cultural heritage.
For his efforts in helping the Tejon families John Harrington received no special pay but suffered the animosity of the white owners of the Tejon Ranch, which was trying to evict the Tejon from their homes. He sought help from the Smithsonian Institute, sympathetic non-Indians in Bakersfield, and in state and federal courts.
In the end, the Tejon Indian leaders and Harringon proved unable to persuade American power brokers to defend the impoverished Tejon families against agressive business interests. To Harrington's dismay and complete frustration, the last of the Tejon were driven from their homes which were razed by the ranch.
The story of the Tejon Indian dissipation [throughout the State of California] and the indifference of local, state, and federal courts and bureaucracies to their plight remains one of the most neglected native Californian narratives in the California's public radio and television programing.
The Tejon Treaty
The Tejon Reservation: Research
Seven Villages At Tejon