IN 1963 the Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land sent their bark petitions to the Federal Government, protesting the Commonwealth’s granting of mining rights to the North Australian Bauxite and Aluminium Company.
In a struggle that’s lasted more than five decades, Yunupingu’s argument has never been that mining should not be allowed on Aboriginal land. Rather, he’s argued that the industry should be conducted on the traditional owners’ terms as a means for creating economic opportunity and escaping the welfare trap.
“This bauxite we are mining is ours,” he said.
“We used to own it before the land was taken away by the Commonwealth. We still own the land and the bauxite.