Owners celebrate as land rulings end wait

Click here for more photo
Ewamian Determination - Owners celebrate as land rulings end wait. (More photo's click here)

Native Title has been declared over a parcel of land southwest of Cairns, marking the end of 16-year battle for recognition.

The Ewamian people were recognised as the traditional custodians over land in two consent determinations handed down at Georgetown yesterday.

The ruling covers Georgetown, Forsyth, Einasleigh and Mt Surprise and marks the end of a claim first lodged in 1997.

Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation chairman Ken Georgetown said the decision has been a long time coming.  “Ewamian People have been working with the North Queensland Land Council for almost 20 years towards this determination of native title,” he said.

“Today’s determination is the culmination of many years hard work and is a clear statement by the Australian legal system that Ewamian people are the native title holders of their country and have the legal right to exercise their native title rights and interests.”

The ruling by the Federal Court means about 26,000sq km of land in the Gulf country will be covered by native title.

“Ewamian People can camp, hunt, gather, conduct ceremonies, and maintain places of importance and significance on their traditional lands in accordance with traditional laws and customs,” Mr Georgetown said.

“Achieving these native title determinations is a fantastic outcome for Ewamian People and the wider community and something everyone can celebrate.”

Traditional owner David Hudson said it was a “huge turning point” for indigenous Australians.

He said he hopes the ruling will bring families back to the land.

Source: The Cairns Post, 27 November 2013, Page 12