Christine Choo
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Historians and native title
The question of evidence
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Drawing on the successive decisions in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, this chapter examines the ways in which historians have been used as expert witnesses in native title claims in Australia. Since the 1992 Mabo decision and the passing of the Commonwealth Native Title Act in 1993 historians have become increasingly involved in the native title process. In Australia, the oral evidence of the native title applicants, including Aboriginal-way-of-life evidence, is being used in the court process to determine native title, as is the evidence of expert witnesses, including historians. Historical research in the native title context raises complicated questions about the nature of historical evidence. The paucity of existing research on contact history in Australia leaves serious gaps in the story of regional settlement and its impacts. The chapter focuses on the litigation process, particularly in relation to native title claims, and question the role of historians in this process.

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Law, history, colonialism

The reach of empire


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