A 2008 submission from the Northern Land Council to Senate’s Environment, Communication and Arts Committee on the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management (Repeal and Consequential Amendment) Bill states their perspective of the situation:
“… only the traditional Aboriginal owners, being the Ngapa group associated with the Lauder families, were empowered under the Act and under Aboriginal tradition to consent to the repository. Conversely persons from other groups are not entitled under the legislative scheme or under Aboriginal tradition to prevent traditional Aboriginal owners from utilising the land as they see fit.” (NLC 2008:12)
“Ngapa” is a term for water and rain, and it is used in connection with a Dreaming for part of the country.
It is a curious thing, in relation to the strong NLC claims being made to Aboriginal tradition, that a major rally is presently being organised for Tennant Creek on May 8 2011 by some senior indigenous people opposing this use of land at Muckaty – and some of these people, at least, have rights in land at Muckaty and are also traditional Aboriginal owners for land at Muckaty.
If the Northern Land Council is to be believed, these indigenous people don’t know their own traditions!
But the reality is that the Northern Land Council is wrong. They have got “Aboriginal tradition” completely back-to-front. They have accepted a non-indigenous view of First Peoples realities which transforms indigenous sovereignty of the majority into property rights of a few.
We look forward with interest to see what message comes out of the rally in Tennant Creek on Sunday 8 May.