Lands of the Yinhawangka People

Yinhawangka Country covers comprises approximately 11,920 square kilometres of land in the central Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The Yinhawangka native title determination (claimant) applications WAD 340/2010 and WAD 216/2010 (NNTT WC2010/016 and WC2010/011) were filed in the Federal Court in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA) on 12 August 2010 and 11 November 2010 respectively (Yinhawangka Claims).

The Yinhawangka Claims have been accepted for registration by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT). Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) acts for the Yinhawangka People, being the native title claim group represented in the Yinhawangka Claims, and is also one of the native title representative bodies for the area (the other is Central Desert Native Title Services Ltd).

The Yinhawangka People intend to nominate Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) as a Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) to hold the rights and interests comprising the native title on trust for the common law holders in the event of a determination of native title and is held by the Yinhawangka People.

YAC currently acts as an agent for the Yinhawangka People in respect of their rights and obligations under various land use agreements.

Yinhawangka People

Yinhawangka moved seasonally throughout their country for particular purposes, procuring resources and undertaking cultural obligations and business like visiting thalu sites or law grounds. They might stop for a couple of weeks and then move on to another place. One of the rockshelters at Channar, Yirra, is now believed by archaeologists to have been occupied or visited over a period of 50,000 years. It is still important to Yinhawangka Traditional Owners.

The effect of the establishment of the pastoral takeover of Yinhawangka and neighbouring Aboriginal lands forever altered the long-established Yinhawangka socio-economy and way of life; not least as a consequence of the introduction of domestic sheep, cattle and horses, and with many homesteads established on reliable water sources which were then prohibited to Yinhawangka families.

Due to the actions of pastoralists, both directly and indirectly, the consequence was a large reduction in Yinhawangka population and families. This was followed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the forced removal of the remaining families off traditional lands. This contact history explains why there are now only three surviving apical ancestor Yinhawangka families, tracing descent from Minatangunha; Jarndunha; and the couple Thurantajinha and Wilga.

About 360 people currently identify as Yinhawangka, about 80 of whom live in towns or communities within Yinhawangka Country, while about half live in coastal Pilbara towns, and the remainder live elsewhere. The Yinhawangka People are closely related with the surrounding Native Title Groups of Banjima (Panyjima) to the northeast, and Guruma (Kurruma) to the north of Yinhawangka Country. To the south-east Yinhawangka Country is bordered by Jurruru Country, to the west by Puutu Kunti Kurruma Country and to the south by Nharnuwangga Country.

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