The Arrernte Native Title Claim in Alice Springs

Former Lhere Artepe Chair Brian Stirling leavescourt after hearing the Federal Court hand down its determination in favour of the Arrernte people.

Nearly 130 years after European settlement began in Central Australia, the common law of Australia finally recognised the native title rights and interests that Arrernte people have exercised as the owners of the Alice Springs area for thousands of years

.This decision was the first in Australia to recognise native title in an urban area.

The Arrernte people lodged a claimants application with the Native Title Tribunal in 1994 but no agreement could be reached with the Government so in 1996 the application went to the Federal Court.

The Court heard from the native title claimants about how they and their ancestors have continued to live in and around Alice Springs and hunted and gathered bush tucker and bush medicines and other resources on their country, and have continued to look after the country and exercise their rights to make decisions about it.

In May 2000, six years and several hundred thousand dollars later, the Federal Court recognised coexisting native title rights and interests on most reserve, park and vacant Crown land and waters within Alice Springs (including rights to possess and occupy, use and enjoy the land, and make decisions about the use of the land).

The Arrernte set up Lhere Artepe as the Prescribed Body Corporate to make those decisions about future land use in the town.

See a colonial chronology of Alice Springs here