‘Many sticks bundled together are hard to break’

Thinn-Mah Warriyangka Tharrkari Jiwarli native title holders. Photo by José Kalpers.

The Thiin-Mah Warriyangka Tharrkari Jiwarli people have had their native title status formally recognised by the Federal Court.

Submitted in 2016, the combined claim covers a determination area of 6,804km² within the shires of Carnarvon, Ashburton and Upper Gascoyne.

The area has a distinct spiritual significance to the group, especially areas that include bodies of water.

This country hosts the water serpent, thalu places, meeting and ritual places, and Indigenous elders’ burial sites.

“Today means everything—Ngurra—Country. It’s been a good journey with the people, we have walked together, and will continue to walk together every step of the way—to see a different world, to see a different future. This is for the past and the present, this is for the children,” said Traditional Owner Ben Roberts.

For thousands of years the Traditional Owners have maintained their connection to land, waters and ancestors on country and have continued to pass down law and culture through each generation.

Hunting is a traditional custom many Thiin-Mah Warriyangka Tharrkari Jiwarli people still participate in.

It allows people to be on country and pass on valuable knowledge to younger generations about how to look after country resources into the future.

Traditional Owner Herbert Eagles said they can now look forward to a future where they create a legacy for their children and their children’s children.

“We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and I know that they would be proud that our connection to country has been honoured today by the Federal Court,” Mr Eagles said.

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation CEO Simon Hawkins congratulated the Thiin-Mah Warriyangka Tharrkari Jiwarli people on collaborating for native title.

“I am reminded today of an analogy I heard from a Traditional Owner, that a single twig is easy to snap, but many sticks bundled together are hard to break. Together you are strong. Your success today comes from the hard work and dedication of your working group,” Mr Hawkins said.

Mr Hawkins said he is looking forward to working with the Thinn-Mah Warriyangka Tharrkari Jiwarli people in future.

By Hannah Cross

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