At last: Kenbi land returned to Aboriginal owners after 37-year fight

“This is a big day for us,” Kenbi traditional owner Jason Singh told the crowd. “At last we have waited and we get our land back.

A crowd of several hundred, including Malcolm Turnbull, sat at Mandorah facing Darwin harbour, the city’s skyline in the distance. For 37 years the people of this land have looked across to the seat of power of the Northern Territory government, which for four decades fought against them and their rights to their country.

In April an agreement was finally reached. On Tuesday the title deeds to the 55,000 hectares of the Kenbi land claim, covering the Cox peninsula on the western side of Darwin harbour, were officially handed back.

At almost four decades since it was officially lodged, the Kenbi claim was one of the longest running in Australian land rights history. It has been particularly fraught, with three challenges in the federal court and two in the high court. It was awarded to just six individuals, known as the Tommy Lyons group, and a separate group of Larrakia people have maintained their claims of ownership and unhappiness at the decision.

Long negotiations with government over the cost of cleaning up toxic waste and arms materials on the land also caused delays and tension. Many senior Larrakia died before its resolution.

Source: The Guardian

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