Strategic and social affiliations such as this are not uncommon and reflect the degree of kinship between language groups in the Pilbara. However, the chosen affiliations of individuals and families are subject to speculation and hostile challenges. This is essential for the articulation of regional Aboriginal policies, which is necessarily in the area of interaction with the mining industry, particularly with respect to agreement-based organizations and related resources. Statements about identity and, therefore, land interests are confirmed and supported by the questioning of the alleged interests of others. It is based on a series of symbolic and cultural resources that are acquired and nurtured through knowledge and engagement with one`s own country and parents (see Chapter 1, this volume; also Povinelli 1993, Chapter 4; Throsby 2001, for a debate on cultural value). The goal of achieving “material aspirations” is driven by “material realities.” At the same time, maintaining distinctive Aboriginal identities is essential in internal conflicts, positioning individuals and families in relation to land interests, and defining the relationship between indigenous peoples and the mining industry (Povinelli 1993: 186-92). A woman from Nyiyaparli, for example, expresses the dual purpose of using the resources of the mining agreement to repatriate her people to the country, while expressing support for the existence and development of education, training and employment programmes for young people so that they can make employment decisions and “bring back money” (interview, 19 August 2004). However, like many others, it recognizes that people, especially young people, face the challenges of fulfilling dual obligations, being full-time workers and participating in family and cultural life. A Banyjima man and a time collaborator of Pilbara Iron said (Interview, November 25, 2006): The role of the individual is clearly an important factor in the relationship between the mining industry and indigenous organizations like Gumala and IBN Corporation. The first president of Gumala and founder of IBN Corporation at the time of this study received significant support from the Pilbara mining industry through his role in the YLUA negotiations, then by the companies Gumala and IBN. He is considered an Aboriginal entrepreneur and has been supported by a number of non-Aboriginal people who are involved in the political landscape of Pilbara.
His ability to attract people around him strained relations between IBN Corporation and Gumala. Clive Senior, employed by Hamersley Iron as a mediator during the YLUA negotiations, was hired directly by IBN Corporation as a negotiator for the Area C agreement. In 2005, senior served on the board of directors of IBN Corporation (IBN Corporation/Indigenous Mining Services 2004). In addition, Ian Williams, a former Rio Tinto employee who participated in YLUA negotiations and century mine negotiations in Queensland, also served on the board of directors of IBN Corporation (IBN Corporation/ Indigenous Mining Services 2004). John Cunningham, President of the Polly Farmer22 Foundation and a former collaborator of Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia (CRA), served on the boards of Gumala and IBN Corporation (IBN Corporation/Indigenous Mining Services 2004). In addition, a number of Aboriginal people, who are important in regional policy, are two members of the board of directors of both organizations. A number of individuals representing language group companies within the ibn Corporation structure are also involved in Gumalas` affairs as general members of the organization and members of the board of directors.