Early Indigenous engagement with mining in the Pilbara: Lessons from a historical perspective

Author/editor: Holcombe, S
Year published: 2004
Issue no.: 24


This paper traces the development of the first private company set up by Aboriginal people in Western Australia. This company, Northern Development and Mining (Nodom), was formed in the late 1940s to enable Aboriginal members of the company to develop an economic base from mining and pastoralism in the Pilbara. The methods by which this company operated and the impetus behind its formation, which stemmed from a pastoral strike and associated social movement, is instructive today. Nevertheless, this paper does not attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of this early movement and the associated companies of Pindan and Nomad. Rather, it aims to draw out and interrogate structural elements of these early organisations that can shed light on contemporary Indigenous organisations and management issues. This selective historical mapping focuses on the structure of leadership and the associated issues surrounding access to benefits within these early organisations-offering insights into the operations of contemporary Indigenous organisations set up to harness economic and social development from major mines in the Pilbara region. Questions are raised that will assist in the analyses and formulation of effective governance structures in this same region today. Researching the history of settlement and early development is an essential prologue to contextualising current Indigenous responses to mining and associated development today.

Note: This Working Paper was revised in August 2006.

ISBN: 0 7315 4923 6

ISSN: 1442 3871

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