Native Title Standing

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation is the Prescribed Body Corporate with responsibility for the management of Yindjibarndi country on behalf of Yindjibarndi people.

The Yindjibarndi people hold Non-Exclusive Native Title over much of their country, and recently, after a 14 year struggle, were awarded Exclusive Native Title over a further part of their country.

Non-Exclusive Native Title

The Native Title Standing of Yindjibarndi for 1,562.2 SqKm of our traditional west Pilbara homelands was first recognized in the Ngarluma/Yindjibarndi determination of 2005. This determination arose from a native title claim first lodged in 1994 by the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi peoples of the west Pilbara, and litigated in the Federal court over nine years.

In 2005, Justice French held that the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people held non-exclusive native title rights over parts of the claim area, including rights of access and to use resources. (Tribunal File WCD2005/001 /Federal Court File WAD6017/1996)

The Native Titles Website:  provides the following information –

The Yindjibarndi People have the following non-exclusive native title rights and interests in relation to the Yindjibarndi Native Title Area:

(a) A right to access (including to enter, to travel over and remain); (b) A right to engage in ritual and ceremony (including to carry out and participate in initiation practices); (c) A right to camp and to build shelters (including boughsheds, mias and humpies), limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area, and to live temporarily thereon as part of camping or for the purpose of building a shelter; (d) A right to fish from the waters, limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area; (e) A right to collect and forage for bush medicine, limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area and the upper reaches of the Sherlock River; (f) A right to hunt and forage for and take fauna (including fish, shell fish, crab, oysters, goanna, kangaroo, emu, turkey, echidna, porcupine, witchetty grub and swan but not including dugong or sea turtle), limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area and the upper reaches of the Sherlock River; (g) A right to forage for and take flora (including timber logs, branches, bark and leaves, gum, wax, Aboriginal tobacco, fruit, peas, pods, melons, bush cucumber, seeds, nuts, grasses, potatoes, wild onion and honey), limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area and the upper reaches of the Sherlock River; (h) A right to take black, yellow, white and red ochre, limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area; (i) A right to take water for drinking and domestic use; (j) A right to cook on the land including light a fire for this purpose, limited to the Millstream-Fortescue Area; (k) A right to protect and care for sites and objects of significance in the Yindjibarndi Native Title Area (including a right to impart traditional knowledge concerning the area, while on the area, and otherwise, to succeeding generations and others so as to perpetuate the benefits of the area and warn against behaviour which may result in harm, but not including a right to control access or use of the land by others).

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Exclusive Native Title

In 2003, Yindjibarndi people lodged a claim for Exclusive Native Title over 2,700 Square Kilometres of their homelands which Justice French noted Yindjibarndi could be entitled to.

After a hard, lengthy and heartbreaking struggle, on 20th July 2017, Federal Court Judge, Stephen Rares, a leading judicial authority on native title, handed down his decision. He stated that:

“I have found that the Yindjibarndi are entitled to exclusive native title rights and interests over all of the unallocated Crown land in the claimed area and the Yandeeyara Reserve, except for a small area occupied by the Tom Price railway,”

Justice Steven Rares further ruled that:

“This includes the unallocated Crown land occupied by FMG’s Solomon Hub mine.”

To have Exclusive Native Title for this…for even just part of my Ngurra makes me feel I am recognized, that Australia sees me, my life at last. We are seen and we have always been connected, and now at last we can put up a warra on our country, and know that no-one can knock it down or tell us to leave… For 50,000 years, our cultural legacy has passed from our ancestors to our elders. I speak for Mayarinyjbangu who was our last senior Yindjibarndi Elder. Like all of our great elders, Mayarinyjbangu stood strong for our ngurra, our language, and our Birdarra ceremonial law. A champion chose to champion another… Michael Woodley. Together they stood strong with all our people to make sure our children, and our children’s children inherit the legacy that is truly ours.

We are Yindjibarndi.
Nhar barni ngayaia marangga

Pansy Cheedy, speaking at the announcement

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