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Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (Jam Ukurnu-Yapalikunu)

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Overview

The Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (Jam Ukurnu-Yapalikunu) administers land on behalf of the Martu people. Their ownership over the land was formally recognised in the Martu and Ngurrara determination of 2002.

This determination arose from a series of native title claims made in the late 1990s. The claim covered 220,000 square kilometres of land in the Pilbara region, most of which was unallocated Crown land. This claim was successfully negotiated over the next six years. All parties agreed to recognise the Martu’s native title rights over 130,000 square kilometres, while the Ngurrara people were acknowledged as owning 5,652 square kilometres around the Percival Lakes. Rights over the remaining areas of the claim will continue to be negotiated between all parties. This agreement was affirmed and approved by the Federal Court in September 2002.

This determination was made possible by the cooperation of different groups within the Martu People. Since 1946, the Martu people had been divided between those who participated in the Indigenous walk-off on pastoral stations throughout the Kimberley and those who remained on the station, becoming known as ‘McLeod’s Mob’. Since the 1970s, those groups have fought for title to their country, although they did not work as a united group until an agreement was mediated between them in 1998.

Managed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
AIATSIS acknowledges the funding support of the Native Title Branch of
the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).