Prior to first contact with white people, the jila (springs) and jumu (soaks) were central to our lives in the desert. Every hot season brought danger, particularly if children wandered away from the campsite without coolamons of water, or if our people travelled for many days across the desert only to find a waterhole empty, or full of mud. We lived by hunting hare wallabies, desert skinks, goannas and possums; by gathering desert nuts, wattle seeds and bush onions. Some of our people still remember, as children, the first time they saw watermelons or camels. The last of our people walked out of the desert in the '50s and '60s.
Official recognition of our native title, stating we could 'possess, occupy, enjoy and use the land to the exclusion of all others' and 'enjoy the flowing and underground waters for hunting, fishing and other traditional activities' was a momentous occasion, although the path to this recognition was long and at times frustrating. For Ngurrara people it took eleven years before our native title was officially recognised. In 2007, Justice Gilmour travelled to Pirnini, near Kurtal in the Great Sandy Desert, to deliver the court's determination over Ngurrara A.
Pirnini was where our old people painted the famous Ngurrara canvas, which we used to prove our connection to country when battling for native title. The canvas was a collaborative work, a map of our country illustrating all the living water, all the freshwater jumu and jila across the desert. The only concession to Western mapping is the depiction of the Canning Stock Route. Sections of this canvas have been used at the top of the website. In 2012, native title was granted to Ngurrara B and Ngurrara C.
Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation was set up to manage Ngurrara native title following the consent determination in 2007. We're now working on fulfilling a vision: a vision to have a self-sufficient organisation that is wholly representative of Ngurrara people. Yanunijarra aims to be a model of strong Indigenous governance; to create employment and training opportunities for our people on country; and to ensure our country is looked after and any impacts from development or tourism are managed.