Native Title Determination
Through commitment and unity, and with the assistance of their anthropologist, Dr Edward McDonald, and their lawyer, Mr Ronald Bower of Corser and Corser, the Thalanyji People demonstrated the depth and strength of their connection to this country. In 2008, Justice Tony North of the Federal Court convened the first sitting of the Federal Court “on country” for the purpose of the taking of Preservation Evidence from the elders; this, together with the research carried out by Dr McDonald (and Professor Basil Sansom) with the elders, led to the historic outcome of recognition of native title. Native Title was awarded over 11,120 sqkm of land in the West Pilbara on September 18th, 2008 including a native title in Onslow, bringing a sense of recognition and renewed cultural strength.
“We have waited a long time for this day. This occasion means everything to us and to our elders, who at last have the recognition of their ties to their country, to our own generation, who have the task of carrying the ongoing role of maintaining our culture and connection with the land, and to our children, who will learn from us the culture and spirituality of our country. Our elders maintained a “dual existence” working in the pastoral industry, and raising their family, all the while maintaining the sites, the ceremonies and their culture as well as keeping the language strong. Their achievement in maintaining our culture even while other users have come in to take up their land cannot be underestimated.”Shirley Hayes, then Chairperson of Buurabalayji Thalanyji Association
The native title process is still integral to both the Thalanyji People and the organisation, with several claims still undetermined we continue to work towards reconnecting the Thalanyji People to their traditional lands.