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Conference papers

Relocation: land claims and identity building of the Noongar Aborigines, Western Australia

Abstract : During the colonial period, the Noongar Aborigines of the south-west of Western Australia have been dispossessed of their land and displaced on their own “country”. Since 1995, they have sought the recognition of their customary land rights through the legal procedure of native title. In 2003, 80 Noongars have lodged the Single Noongar claim (SNC), an application for determination of native title over the whole South-West, including the Perth metropolitan area, on behalf of all the Noongars. Through that process, the State of Western Australia, the government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the full Federal Court of Australia confronted the Noongars to a second displacement. To deny the recognition of the Noongars’ land rights, they tried to impose on them their legal definition of the concept of “society” and how they should be socially and territorially organised. They also strived to deprive them of their Aboriginality and their history by refusing to recognise them as “traditional” because, having endured the impact of colonisation, they were historicised. But the Noongars managed to face that displacement. They resisted and replaced the definition of an “authentic” Aboriginality they were demanded to comply with to have their native title recognised by a more inclusive approach. They convinced Justice Wilcox of the Federal Court to recognise them as a “traditional” society with native title rights that should be recognised, subject to extinguishment – a verdict that was appealed by the State of Western Australia and the government of the Commonwealth and questioned by the full Federal Court which sent the case back to another Court for reconsideration. However, empowered by Wilcox’s recognition of their “society” and the existence of their land rights, the Noongars decided not to run the risk of a new trial and, to resolve their land claims out of the native title process, they pressured the State of Western Australia into negotiating. Besides the financial cost and the slowness of the procedure, they have more to gain than the recognition of certain rights and interests in relation to land from that negotiated outcome that allows them to relocate themselves territorially, historically, socially, economically and politically on their “country”.
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Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 16, 2014 - 9:18:40 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:31:41 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01006412, version 1



Virginie Bernard. Relocation: land claims and identity building of the Noongar Aborigines, Western Australia. Géographies de la dislocation / Geographies of displacement, EMMA (Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone, EA 741), université Montpellier 3; LERMA (Laboratoire d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Monde Anglophone, EA 853), Aix-Marseille Université, Jun 2014, Montpellier, France. ⟨halshs-01006412⟩



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