• Traditional dancers at Mapoon Paanja Cultural Festival
The Mapoon community on Cape York has commemorated 50 years since traditional owners were forcibly removed from their country.
18 Nov 2013 - 3:57 PM  UPDATED 18 Nov 2013 - 6:28 PM

The Mapoon Paanja Cultural Festival was held on the weekend to remember their loss but also celebrate their community’s survival.

In November of 1963, the Director of Native Affairs Pat Killoran ordered police to remove Tjungundji traditional owners from Old Mapoon Presbyterian Church Mission and burn the community to the ground.

The Paanja Festival was held on the weekend to commemorate 50 years since this removal occurred.

Related: Forced Aboriginal removal 'forgiven, not forgotten'

Queensland Government representatives attended the festival's official opening.

Housing Minister Tim Mander was in attendance to announce a $2 millionhousing grant so that more former residents could return home.

Today, about 300 people live in Mapoon but there were many more who resided there before the burning of Old Mapoon Mission.

Mapoon CEO Leon Yeatman says the community is moving forward, but bringing people home is an important part of that.

Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, David Kempton, says the government is pushing for the development of communities in the Cape, including Mapoon.

However, he says the weekend's announcements and actions are not an apology for the burning.