The Guardian June 21, 2000


Land returned to traditional owners

The traditional owners of Carpentaria Downs and Balbirini pastoral lands 
in the Northern Territory, have had their land returned to them. The 
official hand over took place on the eastern boundary of the claim area 
last Friday. The leases cover an area of 4,450 square kilometres and were 
purchased in 1995 on behalf of the traditional owners. They were part of 
the original McArthur River Station.

The arrival of the pastoral industry in the 1880's in the Gulf and 
Tablelands areas caused widespread devastation of the local Aboriginal 
society with the appropriation of traditional lands, massacres and the 
dispersal of Aboriginal groups. Those that survived the initial conflicts 
eventually worked on the new stations usually badly exploited and paid only 
in rations. Their descendants are now the traditional owners.

The hand over recognises in European law what the traditional owners have 
always known to be reality in their own law.

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