The Traditional Owners of the Groote Archipelago are referred to by their language name Anindilyakwa.
The Anindilyakwa have been granted inalienable freehold title to the Groote Archipelago which includes Winchelsea Island. Cultural heritage surveys conducted on Winchelsea Island by the Traditional Owners have cleared the island for mining activities.
The name Groote Eylandt was bestowed on the third largest island in Australia by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and means ‘Great Island.’ The people who live here think it is great too.
The predominantly indigenous communities of Umbakumba, Milyakburra and Angurugu are home to a combined population of approximately 1,500 people. Like many Australian communities there are homes, schools, shops, clinics, police, recreation facilities, businesses, cultural centres and festivals. Some family groups choose to live outside of towns on ‘satellite’ communities to remain close to their traditional clan lands.
Located at the port, the township of Alyangula houses a largely non-indigenous population that services the South32 GEMCO mine and other operations. Schools, clinics, health facilities, recreation facilities, a tourist resort and an enviable community atmosphere make this seemingly quiet little port town very liveable.
The Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) is a ‘future-forward’ Land Council, highly geared to enable the Anindilyakwa people to take full advantage of the opportunities and technology available in the 21st Century, while simultaneously preserving land, language and culture. This is the directive given by the 14 clans of the archipelago.
Today the ALC is a driving force in the creation of sustainable local economies. The road to self-sustainability began back in 1976, with the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act (ALRA). At this pivotal time in their history, the Anindilyakwa people became one of the first Australian Aboriginal traditional owner groups, recognised by Australian law, as having inalienable freehold title over the islands within the Groote Archipelago. As a result of the Act (1976), the Northern Land Council (NLC) then became the statutory corporate body responsible for activities within the Groote Archipelago, on behalf of the interests of those 14 owner clans. Then in 1991, the Anindilyakwa Land Council was established, taking over most of the roles previously held by the Northern Land Council (the NLC remains responsible for Native Title representation). Nowadays the ALC, under section 23(1) of the ALRA undertakes the following:
- Management of the land to protect TOs’ interests
- Protection of sacred sites
- Consultation regarding proposals relating to lands and seas in the Groote Archipelago
- Provision of assistance to Traditional Owners to engage in commercial activities and economic development
- Supervision and administration of Lands Trusts
- Control of visits by all non-indigenous people through monitoring and permits
- Protection and preservation of culture, including Intellectual Property,
Copyright and reproduction of cultural products to safeguard against illegal or improper use of research, digital images, designs, stories, bio-cultural information, artefacts and art.
The ALC mission and vision is to:
- Protect, maintain and promote Anindilyakwa culture;
- Invest in the present to build a self-sufficient future; and
- Create pathways for youth to stand in both worlds.
Clan Based Enterprises
There is opportunity for Clan Based Enterprises to be developed to support the project and provide economic and social development and security to the aboriginal community.
These opportunities may include:
- Plant Operators
- Training and Safety Services
- Nursery, Rehabilitation and Environmental Monitoring
- Security/Bio Security Services
- Stevedoring and Marine Services Barging
- Aquaculture, Hatchery, Ponds & Oyster Farms
- Forestry, roof truss supply for house construction
- Accommodation Services