The common law recognition of Native Title in the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992 and the Commonwealth Native Title Act have transformed the ways in which Indigenous peoples’ rights over land may be formally recognised and incorporated within Australian legal and property regimes. The process of implementation has raised a number of crucial issues of concern to Native Title claimants and other interested parties. This series of papers is designed to contribute to the information and discussion.
This paper describes the adaptation of the methods of oral historians to the purposes of Native Title claims both in field methods and in the presentation of findings and their analysis in legal proceedings. Further comment is made on the reliability of evidence in court of expert witnesses hired by representative bodies. The paper was given at the Australian Anthropological Society Conference 27-29 September 2001 at La Trobe University.