Wik peoples

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The Wik peoples are an Indigenous Australian group of people from an extensive zone on western Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland, of several different language groups. They are from the coastal flood plains bounding the Gulf of Carpentaria lying between Pormpuraaw (Edward River) and Weipa, and inland the forested country drained by the Archer, Kendall and Holroyd rivers. The first ethnographic study of the Wik people was undertaken by the Queensland born anthropologist Ursula McConnel. Her fieldwork focused on groups gathered into the Archer River Mission at what is now known as Aurukun.[1]


McConnel's classification (1930) outlined the following groups

  • The largest group,[2] the Wik-Mungkan, were an inland tribe, neighbouring the Kokiala and Kaantju to the north and northeast, the Ayapathuto the east and southeast, and the Koko Taiyari south of the Edward river.
  • (2) The Wik-Nantjara, on the coast from the Edward river to the Kendall river. North of them were
  • (3) The Wik-Natanya, on the coast from the Kendall to the Arimanka river. To their north lived
  • (4) The Wik-Mean, and then
  • (5) The Wik-Eppa, (only 2 members alive by 1930)
  • (6) The Wik-Natara on the coast, west of the Wik-Mean and Wik-Eppa, north to the Archer river
  • (7) The Wikapatja, extinct by 1930.
  • (8) The Wik-Ampama on the Watson River, whose few remnants had mostly been detribalized by 1930 and lived at the Aurukun Mission Station.[2][3]

Writing in 1997, Neva Collings stated that the group then comprised the peoples of Wik-Ompom, Wik-Paacha, Wik-Thinta, Wik-Ngathara, Wik-Epa, Wik-Me'anha, Wik-Ngathara, Wik-Nganychara, and Wik-Iiyanh.[4]


Under early colonization and settlement in northern Queensland it was widely thought that the indigenous peoples were 'less than worthless, vermin which should be exterminated'.[5] And, according to Neva Collings, the Wik were regarded in these terms.[6]

Native Title[edit]

The Wik Peoples won a landmark court case, which resulted in the formal recognition of their native title rights.[7] The High Court of Australia later found that native title could coexist with a pastoral lease.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]