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Type: Journal article
Title: Norman Tindale and native title: his late appearance in the Jango case
Author: Sutton, P.
Citation: Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 2015; 39:26-72
Publisher: Anthropological Society of South Australia
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 1034-4438
Statement of
Peter Sutton
Abstract: When he was seventy-two Norman Tindale published his opinion that the Pitjantjatjara people of the south-eastern Western Desert were divided into patrilineal descent groups or clans. Their members, by birth, shared inheritance of a particular totem and its locality, and therefore possessed the same territory (Tindale 1972:223). In this paper I examine in detail his own very substantial 1933 field data on these people, as well as that of several other anthropologists who worked in the same region from 1930 onwards. These primary sources reveal that there were no descent groups, whether patrilineal or matrilineal, at all, in this part of the Western Desert. People born well before the arrival of European colonists, and many after them, often had totems and birth districts that differed from those of their fathers, and those of their siblings from the same father. The privileged pathway to country was instead place of birth, though complemented by multiple other factors providing connection to country that were acquired during a lifetime. Although presented with this comprehensive analysis, the Federal Court in the Jango native title case decided that Tindale’s 1972 verdict was correct. Since the applicants did not follow patrilineal descent of country, the Judge, Sackville J, concluded that their laws and customs were no longer traditional. The applicants lost their case.
Rights: © Anthropological Society of South Australia 2015
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 7
Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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