The work of rights: the Nyangumarta people's journey to native title and independence

Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Nyaparu Margaret Rose
Pamela Faye McGrath

Last year, AIATSIS collaborated with Nyangumarta Warrarn Aboriginal Corporation and Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation on a case study to investigate the amount of time and social capital that the Nyangumarta people have spent over the past 15 years on different aspects of their native title work. The Nyangumarta people, whose country is located in the east Pilbara/west Kimberly around Eighty Mile Beach, first started working on their native title claim in the mid-1990s. In 2009 they finally achieved recognition of their rights over 33,000 sq. km of country, followed by a second joint determination with their Karajarri neighbours in 2012. The findings of the case study are a compelling illustration of both the amount and nature of the corporate work Nyangumarta people undertook to get their rights recognised, and what work has since been necessary in order for them to manage these rights through their two PBCs. The findings also highlight the constantly changing identity of the outsiders whom the Nyangumarta people engage with as part of their corporate work, and point to some of the impacts of the ‘kaja karti marnti’ (long walk) of native title on Nyangumarta people’s everyday lives.