Yind­jibarndi await land rule

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr and Court­ney Fowler

Yind­jibarndi peo­ple can ex­pect a fur­ther eight-month wait to find out if they have been suc­cess­ful in their claim to gain ex­clu­sive pos­ses­sion over part of their land, af­ter a week-long, on-coun­try hear­ing con­cluded on Sun­day.

Deep in the Hamer­s­ley Ranges, three hours south east of Kar­ratha, Yind­jibarndi fam­i­lies set up camp by a dry creek bed to show Fed­eral Court Jus­tice Steven Rares around sev­eral ar­eas of sig­nif­i­cance within the claim area.

Jus­tice Rares was also given the chance to pe­ruse and sam­ple some na­tive bush medicines and foods found in the area.

El­der Mavis Pat is the eldest daugh­ter of Yalgi Pat and has fond mem­o­ries of Gar­li­winyjinha Spring where the camp­site and court had been set up.

“All those medicines what we showed on dis­play to­day, we just find them around here,” she said.

“We used to come through here and the river was full, one of the main rivers when we drov­ing. Now it’s dry.

“We have to keep (the coun­try) for the old peo­ple. We love this coun­try.”

Af­ter four days of tour­ing the coun­try, the court headed back to Roe­bourne for the fi­nal two days of pro­ceed­ings.

YAC chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Wood­ley said he ex­pected a de­ci­sion over the claim to be an­nounced af­ter the next di­rec­tions hear­ing in March next year.

“This has been a long, sev­enyear jour­ney to gain ex­clu­sive pos­ses­sion over our coun­try and we are very ap­pre­cia­tive to have the Fed­eral court on coun­try to hear our claim,” he said.

“I have been very im­pressed by the level of in­ter­est and pro­fes­sion­al­ism from the Yind­jibarndi peo­ple, who have re­mained fo­cused and pos­i­tive on the vi­sion we set out from the be­gin­ning.

“Thanks to ev­ery­body in­volved, if we didn’t have the sup­port of the peo­ple this week wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble.”

One of the sites vis­ited by Jus­tice Rares was a spring called Bangkan­garra ad­ja­cent to Fortes­cue’s Solomon Mine.

A Fortes­cue Met­als Group spokes­woman said the com­pany would con­tinue to work with the Yind­jibarndi peo­ple re­gard­less of the out­come.

“Fortes­cue is pleased to be able to as­sist the Yind­jibarndi peo­ple by pro­vid­ing ac­cess through the Solomon min­ing area for this im­por­tant Fed­eral Court hear­ing,” she said.

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