The Warumungu land claim was made under the Commonwealth of Australia’s 1976 Aboriginal Land Claim (NT) Act. I was one of the original researchers employed by the Central Land Council and i worked very closely with the senior lawmen.
It was abundantly clear that they regarded their country as involving far more than the ‘unalienated’ Crown which was available to claim under the Act. Most of their best living country was under Pastoral lease. They had not ceded this land.
When, as Senior Anthropologist (Land Claims), i wrote my part of the land claim book (1982) i included a suggestion that the Aboriginal Land Commissioner – who had to undertake an extensive formal hearing with the ‘claimant’ traditional owners – that he also exercise another of his functions under the Act to examine the extend of likely claims to ‘alienated’ Crown land. See extract below.
This caused something of a stir – not least among a few non-indigenous power brokers back in the Alice Springs Central Land Council office. Eventually i was sidelined from representing the senior lawmen and replaced by a new researcher – steady hands which could be trusted to comply with the existing status quo a la Anglo-Australia.
A replacement land claim ‘guide’ was produced which kept a tight focus on the wastelands of the Crown – land which had not been sought by cattlemen for a hundred years.
Ironically, with the High Court’s recognition of native title in 1992 and the subsequent Native Title Act, there are now investigations required to find out who are the native title holders for some the pastoral leases. These matters could have received excellent coverage in the early 1980s had the proper course of events been allowed to run its course.
Extract from the 1982 Warumungu Land Claim book:
Native Title notice:
Bruce (Japaljari) Reyburn