A FIGHT is heating up between the Pangerang and Yorta Yorta Aboriginal people over who are the rightful traditional owners of the Warby Ovens National Park.
The Pangerang – sometimes known as Bangerang – people are upset by official Parks Victoria signs in the Warby Ovens National Park that identify the area as “Yorta Yorta Country”.
Pangerang elder, Freddie Dowling, said the signage is a “blatant lie” because his group’s land area stretches to Mansfield in the south and Echuca in the west, taking in both Wangaratta and Shepparton.
“What gives Parks Victoria, or anyone else for that matter, the right to change history and attempt to wipe out a whole tribe of people and think that nobody would care about it?” he said.
“It’s always been Pangerang area; it’s never been anything else… “They’ve (Yorta Yorta) got no business here at all in Wangaratta.”
The issue was discussed last year at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Establishment and Effectiveness of Registered Aboriginal Parties.
Yorta Yorta Nation claims a similar area of land and told the committee it wanted to represent Bangerang people as a clan group within the Yorta Yorta Nation, so the committee recommended the two groups attend independent mediation.
But Pangerang elder, Sandy Atkinson, said he contacted Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Jeanette Powell, last week to request a meeting so she would explain why Yorta Yorta has status as a Registered Aboriginal Party.
He will also organise a community meeting in the coming weeks for the Pangerang people to discuss their issues.