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Long struggle ends as people reunite with country.


Meeting in Kununurra

(Federal Court Justice Tony North joins Miriuwung-Gajerrong women after the determination in Kununurra)


Aboriginal people will reap economic benefits from the second big native title determination in WA in as many days.

The Miriuwung-Gajerrong people have been awarded exclusive rights over some parts of their claim, including three islands, a pastoral station and Aboriginal reserves in the town of Kununurra in North West-Australia.
A sitting of the Full Federal Court took place in a Kununurra park to ratify the 7600sq km determination, agreed to by all parties. Elders were presented with their title. Chief Justice Murray Wilcox said it was a day of celebration and joy. "This act of recognition is yet another foundation upon which reconciliation is being built," he said.
Miriuwung elder Ben Ward made history when he lodged WA's first claim in 1994. Four years later the Federal Court awarded native title but the decision was appealed against all the way to the High Court.
Mr Ward's sister, Marjorie Brown, said it was an exciting day. "It has been a long struggle - 10 years or more - and a lot of my older people have died, "she said." It is an amazing feeling to get back our country.
Kimberley Land Council executive director Wayne Bergmann said the claimants would be able to negociate with other land users.

Deputy Premier Eric Ripper said the chronic shortage of land for residential and agricultural needs in Kununurra would be eases because of the agreement.
The agreement came after the Federal Court gave a judgement for the Wanjina/Wungurr-Wilinggin and Ngarinyin people.


AAP © 2004 West Australian Newspapers Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Acknowledgements: Charlie Wilson-Clark. Picture courtesy of Barry Barker.


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