TOs welcome native title over ‘sugar bag country’

Pamela, Beryl and Vivian Brown at Tennant Creek Native Title Consent Determination. Photo by Central Land Council.

Tennant Creek Station Traditional Owners have had their native title rights recognised over an area of approximately 3,650 square kilometres.

Last week, Justice Natalie Charlesworth handed down a non-exclusive native title consent determination to seven different land holding groups, including:

  • Kankawarla
  • Kanturrpa
  • Kurtinja
  • Patta
  • Pirttangu
  • Purrurtu
  • Warupunju

The native title application was submitted by the Central Land Council in October 2017 after different development interests were made apparent in the Tennant Creek pastoral lease.

Although the lease operates as a cattle station, the land holds many historically and culturally significant places to its Traditional Owners.

“It is a proud day today because older people have fought very hard. It’s good to be part of the negotiation,” said Purrurtu Traditional Owner Ross Jakamarra Williams.

“The younger generation can nurture and keep the story going for the next generation.”

Kanturrpa Traditional Owner Beryl Brown was happy to have native title recognised “after all these years.”

“We used to come through here when there was no gates, we travelled here long time when I was about five-years-old in the ’70s and got taught in both worlds,” Ms Brown said.

“Our families is all buried on the land, we know everything about this land, our father taught us when we were kids, this is sugar bag country.”

Central Land Council Native Title Manager Francine McCarthy, who is also a native title holder for Tennant Creek Station, said native title holders have been fortunate in having a good relationship with the station’s pastoralists Leigh and Ken Ford.

“They have always been engaged with the native title holders,” Ms McCarthy said.

“They also lease neighbouring Aboriginal land so they can extend their pastoral operations and also give Aboriginal people an opportunity to be employed and started teaching the younger generations about what life was like in the old days, the cattle station life.”

In her speech to the native title claimants, Justice Charlesworth said the Native Title Act 1993 “reflects an honest view of our shared legal history … the honest history.”

“The law of Australia recognises that your traditional laws and customs have survived the impact of colonisation and that you maintain your connection with this area, especially your shared responsibility for it and for the dreaming sites within it,” Justice Charlesworth said.

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