A Federal Court decision has recognised 79,412 square kilometres of land in north Queensland as the state’s largest ever native title claim.
The Kuuku Ya’u and Uutaalnganu people have been awarded 210,000 hectares of land in Cape York with the Kuuku Ya’u recognised as the native title holders of 120,268 hectares of country around Lockhart River.
This is the third successful Kuuku Ya’u native title claim and one that has elders buoyed by the decision.
“I will get the clapsticks and I will sing,” elder Father Brian Claudie said.
The 71-year-old of the Kanthanampu subgroup said recognition of the land is of vital importance to generations gone and emerging, particularly children in the region.
For the Uutaalnganu people, their native title claim will extend to over 98,324 hectares of land south of Lockhart River.
Uutaalnganu Traditional Owner and Mayor for Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council Wayne Butcher said the native title claim was justice for his people.
“It’s one of those processes that takes a lot of time, but I think it’s done justice to a lot of old people who are no longer with us,” Mr Butcher said.
“We will get to live healthily and more happily once we get back on Country again.
“To get back there with Native Title recognition, it’s so important spiritually and mentally.
“We will feel more at home now.”
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford added the determinations are a step forward to reconciliation with Queensland’s indigenous people.
“Kuuku Ya’u and Uutaalnganu elders have fought for their lands and waters for decades and this marks another step forward in their pursuit of justice,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to righting the wrongs of the past.
“We’re proud to stand with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as we continue on the Path to Treaty, truth telling and reconciliation.”
Around Queensland, native title is recognised over roughly 532,100 square kilometres, with another 352,900 still subject to claims.
The state recognises over 30 per cent of its land under native title.