Anthropology & Native Title

Understanding how vital anthropology is to native title claims

PART 1 of 2

South Australian Native Title Services employs a small team of anthropologists and we find that people often have questions about what their role is and how it relates to native title.

The truth is that anthropologists have a vital, if perhaps not widely known, role to play in our country’s native title system and in determining outcomes for claimants.

Under the Australian process for a native title claim, a claimant, or applicant, needs to prove that their native title rights have continued to exist largely uninterrupted since sovereignty by the Commonwealth over Australia. They must also prove that native title rights have not been extinguished by subsequent acts of colonisation.

It is within the domain of anthropologists to undertake wide research to demonstrate the claimants’ continuous connection to a common area of land, then support the resolution process by providing expert evidence and data analysis, often in court.

We thought we should give them the chance to explain their work and tell you, firsthand, more about what they do.

You’ll hear this interview with our Senior Anthropologist, Robert Graham in two parts – one this week and the other to follow next week. We hope you enjoy them.

Keep an eye out for a bigger story about anthropology and the native title process in the February edition of the Aboriginal Way newspaper too.

Image: Senior anthropologist Robert Graham with Darryl Doolan following his performance during the Oodnatdatta trial