Today, the Federal Court of Australia recognised the Ewamian Peoples’ native title rights and various interests over its traditional lands in north Queensland in two consent determinations. Elders fought long and hard to get to today where the determinations were handed down in Georgetown.
Land within the vicinity of Georgetown, Forsyth, Einasleigh and Mt Surprise today are the focus of a full day of celebrations and commemoration for Ewamian (pronounced Oor-am-in) people.
Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson Ken Georgetown said it was a huge milestone for his community with the first claims being lodged in 1997.
“Ewamian people have been working with the North Queensland Land Council for almost 20 years towards this determination of native title,” said Mr Georgetown.
“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.”
“We look forward to the ongoing relationship with those that live and work in our traditional Country.”
Mr Georgetown said that about 26,000 square kilometres in Gulf country were recognised as belonging to Ewamian people. He said that this recognition will open up the opportunity for the legacies of the region’s traditional owners to continue with cultural integrity.
“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.”
“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 agreed. “I’m looking forward to seeing families come together, sharing stories and people I haven’t seen for a long time coming back to country and spending time on our homelands,” said Mr Hudson.
“It’s a whole day of festivities starting in Georgetown and finishing for the night at our own Talaroo hot springs.”
“We will also be having a small plaque-opening in the afternoon to honour our people who were massacred there 120 years ago.
“This is a huge turning point for us as Indigenous Australians.”