Representatives from each of the 12 land holding groups with Warlpiri woman, Bess Price, Member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and Mr Justice Reeves.
Researchers from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology have been instrumental in the Ngaliya Warlpiri people from the Northern Territory having their traditional native title rights over Mount Doreen station recognised.
Professor Nic Peterson and post-doctoral fellow Dr Anna Kenny spent five years preparing the native title claim to Mt Doreen Station on behalf of the Ngaliya Warlpiri people.
The fertile 7000 square kilometre station, 350 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs in the Tanami desert, covers the heartland of the Ngaliya Warlpiri people’s traditional country.
The Federal Court determination granted recognition to the Ngaliya Warlpiri claimants of their traditional native title rights on 3 July this year. This included the rights to access, to hunt, gather and camp on the land, and the right to protect sacred places. The judgment also recognized the Ngaliya Warlpiri peoples’ right to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies and to negotiate over any future acts such as mining on the station.
Professor Peterson has researched 11 other land or native land claims during his career and all except for one, that is still before the courts, has been successful.
The well-known anthropological researcher says preparation of the Mt Doreen claim was “very rewarding” because it had helped the Ngaliya Warlpiri people achieve a long held ambition.
“Ultimately they would like to buy the Mt Doreen Station,” says Professor Peterson.
He has had a long association with the Ngaliya Warlpiri people because as an anthropologist he has worked with them on issues of land tenure, kinship, and ceremony since 1966.
Dr Peterson was originally approached about the native land claim by the Central Land Council, a representative body of 90 Aboriginal people elected from communities in the southern half of the Northern Territory, which promotes Aboriginal rights and has a statutory role in assisting people to make claims under the Native Title Act.
Preparing the claim involved locating and recording more than 210 named places and 29 dreaming tracks relating to 31 different dreaming ancestors, recording songs and stories about the country and the family trees of the several hundred claimants.
As part of the native title research Professor Peterson and Dr Kenny uncovered 36 names of Ngaliya Warlpiri people who lived in the area before the station existed. The names were recorded by Lutheran missionary, Pastor Albrecht, who arrived in the area by camel in September 1930 to establish how many people lived there, and what their needs might be.
“These people were the grandparents of the oldest generation of Ngaliya alive today, which provided an ironclad link back to first contact for the claimants,” says Professor Peterson.
The recognised native title rights of the Ngaliya Walpiri people are non-exclusive and do not affect the rights of the Mt Doreen Station leaseholder.