Historic native title win for Butchulla people
AFTER almost two decades of fighting, the Butchulla people will be legally recognised today as the traditional owners of about 100,000 hectares of land and water across the Fraser Coast region in a historic native title determination.
The indigenous people's ancient connection is recognised after a special Federal Court determination was handed down at a Consent Determination Hearing in Dayman Park, Urangan.
Butchulla elder Aunty Bronwyn De Satge, whose name was included on the original native title claim application in 2010 which includes land from Burrum Heads to Rainbow Beach, said the formal recognition of the land rights meant everything to the Butchulla people.
"After all this time, after all this struggle - we are finally getting some of our land back," she said.
"For countless generations my family have managed this country across many seasons."
Ms De Satge, who was also involved in the 2014 native title claim determination which recognised the Butchulla people as the traditional owners of 164,958 hectares of land on K'Gari, also known as Fraser Island, is the oldest Butchulla Wondunna woman still living on country.
"The suburb Wondunna was named after my family," she said.
"We've fished, we've harvested fruits and berries, we've undertaken burning and cleared scrub, we've held ceremonies and we've told stories.
"We've also made artefacts including grass skirts, mooka mooka (whale) bone necklaces and other jewellery.
"This determination will help us to keep this ongoing and continuous connection and to pass it down through generations."
Ms De Stage said the Fraser Coast region was a "treasure trove" of sacred and culturally significant sites.
"Our mother is the land so that is very special to us. It's not of monetary value to us, it's of a cultural value and great significance," she said.
"Importantly, we can also continue our traditional dancing ceremonies with clap sticks, boomerangs and possum skins as we celebrate our connection to this land and its waters."
The determination recognises exclusive native title rights and interests across more than 17,219 hectares, and non-exclusive native title rights and interests over more than 79,608 hectares of land.
Under the native title determination, the Chronicle understands existing leases and freehold land will be unaffected, however, any new leases or lease renewals must be by the consent of the Butchulla people.
Ms De Stage said a lease application would go to the Queensland South Native Title Services where it would be referred to a Prescribed Body Corporate made up of Butchulla people for consideration and if needed negotiation with the applicant.
It is also understood the native title determination will not affect any community events held on Butchulla land as they fall under Fraser Coast Regional Council's trustee lease.
Special leases and mining leases will also be excluded.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham congratulated the Butchulla people, other respondents and the Federal Court for the spirit of co-operation in achieving this recognition.