Article Title

Indigenous land use agreement - Building relationships between Karajarri traditional owners, the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc. and the government of Western Australia


Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc. is located on the eastern shores of La Grange Bay, 200 kilometres south of Broome, Western Australia. Formerly known as La Grange Catholic Mission, the community has a population of around 800 residents, which comprises the traditional owner group - the Karajarri - and their traditional neighbours - the Mangala, Juwaliny, Yulparija and Nyangumarta - who moved on to the mission when it was established in 1955. The Yawuru, northern neighbours of the Karajarri, have generally lived on their own estates and on shared country where traditional boundaries overlapped; however, in recent years a small but significant number of Yawuru have settled at Bidyadanga and the Yardoogarra outstation 30 kilometres to the north, and regard Bidyadanga as a hub with its essential services and infrastructure. The Karajarri had their Native Title aspirations recognised by the Federal Court of Australia in 2002 and 2004. The Karajarri Native Title determinations have become significant turning points for political and community relations between traditional owners and the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc, and also affect the way government, non-government organisations and other stakeholders manoeuvre within claimed Native Title areas. In an attempt to shed some light on the complexities and challenges that confront the people at Bidyadanga today, this paper discusses the contemporary social, political and economic history of the former mission and its people, and comments on the new era of land management and political processes that governs and influences their lives. The author is a member of the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association where he has served as the deputy chair since 2002.



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