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Almost three decades after claims lodged, Traditional Owners celebrate Native Title win in WA

Giovanni Torre -

Traditional Owners in Western Australia's north-west have celebrated a Native Title win at the end of a legal journey that began last century.

In 1997 the first land claims were lodged for Middamia Country in the Gascoyne region, more than 900km north of Perth.

On Monday, the Federal Court recognised the Middamia claimants as the native title holders over the area which is roughly the size of Singapore, 733 square km.

Thomas Dodd, the last survivor of 11 siblings born and raised on Middamia Country, told ABC Pilbara he thinks of his family whenever he shares knowledge.

"I think of them every time I come out to give our story out, to give our knowledge out," he said.

"I'm sure they're here today in celebration with our extended family."

The court's final determination is based primarily within the boundaries of Middalya Station as well as small parts of Mia Mia and Wandagee Stations.

The official proceedings were conducted on-Country by the visiting Federal Court, in a clay pan surrounded by fields of spinifex grass and only accessible by almost 100km of unsealed road, the ABC reported.

Mr Dodd told the ABC that his people had gathered on that site for generations and he was excited to see the court's recognition taking place there.

"It's been years in the making, I'm happy to be out here. I more or less grew up on our determination claim … I used to come out and catch a goanna," he said.

"The next generation have got all that knowledge."

Sahneemah Moncrieff, whose grandmother was born about 20km from the site of the event along the rabbit proof fence, told the ABC that the determination gave her people certainty about land access, which was crucial to cultural ceremonies and Traditional protocols.

"We can just enjoy outdoor activities of camping, hunting, cooking outdoors, storytelling, just what we do as family," she said.

"We can now come out and do it all on our Country, which we're connected to.

"We could feel our old people around us today... Our emotions are high. Our emotions are proud. We're loud, we're strong. We're happy today."

WA Parliamentary secretary to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Meredith Hammat told the gathered crowed that it was one of the last Native Title areas to be settled in the Gascoyne, leaving 87 per cent of the whole state determined under Native Title.

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