The Gingirana people have been formally acknowledged by the Federal Court as having native title rights to land in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
The court convened on Thursday at Kumarina Roadhouse, about 160 kilometres south of Newman, to recognise the native title rights and interests of the Gingirana people for an area of about 12,153 square kilometres.
The claim area is in the western perimeter of the Little Sandy Desert, covering unallocated crown land and pastoral country that includes part of the Rabbit Proof Fence.
The consent determination recognises areas where there is an exclusive right to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment, and other areas where non-exclusive rights exist over pastoral leases.
"I give my thanks to the old people of the past. We now feel free to walk the land again, to know that we have our rights recognised," native title holder Stan Hill said.
"I feel butterflies. This is very big for us. We stuck to our guns and we are all so proud to be here."
The application was originally filed in May 2003 and has been amended three times.
In his judgment, Justice Michael Barker acknowledged the ongoing connection since sovereignty that the claimants had maintained.
"Whilst it is acknowledged that none of the Gingirana claimants presently live permanently on the determination area, their decision to live in close proximity to it means they continue to give effect to their traditional laws and customs," he said.
Justice Barker said that was achieved by visiting country, and passing on to future generations their traditional songs and stories.