Yin­hawangka named na­tive ti­tle own­ers

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

A Pil­bara tra­di­tional owner group has cel­e­brated the end of a 20-year process to gain le­gal recog­ni­tion of its land and cul­ture in a re­sources-rich area.

At an on-coun­try Fed­eral Court hear­ing at Rock­lea pas­toral sta­tion on Tues­day last week, the Yin­hawangka peo­ple were granted na­tive ti­tle rights over their lands.

The de­ter­mi­na­tion area cov­ers the town­site of Parabur­doo, the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties at Wakathuni and Bel­lary Springs, six pas­toral leases, crown re­serves, and un­al­lo­cated crown land.

Yin­hawangka tra­di­tional owner Rod­ney Parker said it was a proud day for the Yin­hawangka peo­ple.

“Af­ter all of our hard work we are fi­nally recog­nised as the own­ers of this land,” he said.

“To­day is a cel­e­bra­tion, a com­ing to­gether of the three clans within this group. To­day is a good day — a win for Yin­hawangka is a win for other in­dige­nous groups in the area.”

The Yin­hawangka de­ter­mi­na­tion area is home to many sa­cred sites in­clud­ing an­cient rock art, tra­di­tional tool-making places, cer­e­mo­nial grounds, per­ma­nent pools and places of spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance con­nected to cul­tural song­lines and sto­ries.

Ya­matji Marlpa Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Hawkins said the Yin­hawangka de­ter­mi­na­tion was one of the ear­li­est to be­gin the process, fol­low­ing hot on the heels of the Mabo de­ci­sion in 1992.

“What has been sig­nif­i­cant is the tra­di­tional own­ers have come to­gether and fam­i­lies have worked hard to achieve this out­come,” he said. “The con­voy out there would have had about 40-50 ve­hi­cles with pas­toral­ists, Rio Tinto rep­re­sen­ta­tives, bu­reau­crats and tra­di­tional own­ers.

“While it is a cel­e­bra­tion, it is also a recog­ni­tion of all those el­ders who have passed on fight­ing for this.”

Mr Hawkins said the de­ter­mi­na­tion in an area of heavy min­ing and pas­toral­ists proved na­tive ti­tle could hap­pen any­where.

Fed­eral Court Jus­tice Morde­cai Bromberg said he hoped the Yin­hawangka could en­joy spir­i­tual and ma­te­rial pros­per­ity.

Pic­ture: YMAC

Jus­tice Bromberg and claim lawyer Kate Hol­lo­man, cen­tre, with mem­bers of the Yin­hawangka na­tive ti­tle group Ni­cholas Cook, Roy Tommy, David Cox and Adrian Con­don Sr.

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