What continues to amaze me working at Lutheran Archives is the myriad stories contained in the archive, the stories in one item or one box of records, and the myriad ways those stories or records have impacted lives.
This year a box of records was deposited at Lutheran Archives by former Finke River Mission (FRM) staff Pastor Paul Albrecht, Garry Stoll, Roger Fargher and Marion and Mark Schubert. The records were from FRM for the years 1972 to 1982. They are documents that surround the pivotal event of the 1982 handover of the title to the former Hermannsburg Mission lease to five Aboriginal clans as five individual land titles.
This has been the only instance in Australia of land titles being granted to representatives based upon their traditional custodianship – as opposed to one title being granted across land that might have multiple traditional custodians. Aboriginal leaders made 18 individual submissions to Parliament that were instrumental in the success of this event.
The records document the process undertaken by FRM staff to achieve this landmark event, including the changes in LCA policy and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act at federal government level.
Seven years ago, a group of former FRM staff began to collect the records and Marion, a former part-time worker at Hermannsburg from 1978 to 1985 while Mark was a teacher and principal there, began retyping individual documents as many were beginning to fade. She later contacted me at the Archives to determine how we could work together to preserve them. This resulted in the records being digitised at the Archives and collated, listed and described by Garry, Roger, Marion and Mark.
It has been a long process, but the records are now at Lutheran Archives available for research. Our FRM collection already contained copies of the 18 submissions to Parliament, but these records provide the context to this event.
It is always my desire that Lutheran Archives records continue to impact lives, inform us, provide hope, healing or understanding, and even influence or shape current decision-making – both within the LCA and, potentially, at government level. I hope that these records can perhaps now be used by government agencies to show them a path they could use in recognising and granting traditional Aboriginal land custodianship.
Rachel Kuchel is Director of Lutheran Archives.
Photo 1: Aboriginal Affairs Minister, the Hon Ian Wilson hands the title deed to Barry Abbott (far left) and Gordon Abbott (to the right of Barry), trustees of the Urana Land Trust at the handover of these at Wallace’s Rock Hole in 1982. LCA President, Dr Les Grope and Moss Keller Chair of FRM (far right) are among those watching on.
Photo 2: Aboriginal Affairs Minister, the Hon Ian Wilson (seated right forefront) speaking to Pastor Traugott Malbunka (standing) with Gustav Malbunka (with beanie, seated to Pastor Traugott’s left) and Hermann Malbunka (seated to the left of Gustav). These are the trustees of Ltalatuma land trust at the time of the handover which took place at Gilbert Springs in 1982.
This is an excerpt from a story that appeared in the Friends of Lutheran Archives (FoLA) newsletter under the headline ‘Handing back land to families at Hermannsburg’.