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Northern Cape York has been returned to its rightful owners

Joseph Guenzler -

After decades of struggle for recognition and eight years of legal negotiation, the

Traditional Owners of northern Cape York have had their native ritle rights recognised.

The Atambaya and Gudang Yadhaykenu Peoples celebrated the return of more than

120,000 hectares of their ancestral homelands in the northern region of Cape York

with a legal ceremony, singing and dancing on Country at Injinoo on October 6.

Federal Justice Debra Mortimer legally conferred the papers, which are part of the Cape

York United #1 Claim in a moving ceremony attended by the families of the original, pre-settlement owners.

Hon Justice Mortimer and Gudang Yadhaykenu rangers Michael Solomon and Thomas Savage

"All the old people who were fighting (for native title) maybe they're smiling from up

above somewhere," Atambaya man Willie Charcoal said.

"I'm over the moon.

"I rang my daughter to tell my grandchildren 'you've got a place to go to now'."

Cape York Land Council chairman Richie Ah Mat congratulated the Traditional Owners for their resilience and determination over many years in their pursuit of land justice.

'Cape York Pama are fierce warriors in the battle for past wrongs to be righted legally and justly," he said.

"Today is a day of celebration, relief, and remembering our Elders who fought so

tenaciously to make this happen.

"We honour them and commend our families' brighter futures to their efforts."

The Atambaya native title claim covers nearly 120,000ha, including an exclusivity area of 4,000ha, to be managed by the Atambaya Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.

Gudang Yadhaykenu's native title covers nearly 2000ha, all of which is non-exclusive and will be managed by the Gudang Yadhaykenu Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.

The consent determinations are the third series of native title groups within the CYU#1 Claim to have native title recognised.

The CYU#1 Claim, which covers more than half of Cape York, is one of the largest land claims in Australia's history.

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