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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal Australia;
  • the State;
  • town camping;
  • Indigenous mobility

Abstract

In Australia's Northern Territory, the Larrakia have been involved in a decades-long effort to gain recognition as traditional owners through Land Rights and Native Title legislation. From one perspective, their claims have failed to achieve the entitlement and recognition grounded in these governmental regimes (Scambary 2007; Povinelli 2002). However, over the past decade the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation (LNAC) and the Larrakia Development Corporation (LDC) have emerged as locally powerful corporate bodies that pursue programs and exercise forms of power on behalf of the Larrakia that can be understood in terms of state and governmental practice. Through suburban development, a night patrol, educational and vocational training, a radio station, and through forms of policy research and statistical enumeration, the Larrakia nation have emerged in the eyes of many as a de facto Aboriginal ‘state’ in the Darwin region. This paper explores the intra-Indigenous relations through which these practices have emerged, and analyses the extent to which the LNAC might be understood as a kind of ‘state’ within a state, responsible for world-shaping activities of knowledge production, housing and health outreach, vocational training and education, and policing. Focussing on the forms of ‘stateness’ that accrue to the Larrakia Nation in Darwin through its policing, knowledge production, and outreach programs for Aboriginal campers, the article explores the differential articulation of Aboriginal groups with the state. It concludes by asking how such differences matter in contexts of planned urbanisation in the Northern Territory.