Abstract: This paper traces the development of the first private company set up by Aboriginal people in Western Australia. This company, Northern Development and Mining (Nodom), was formed in the late 1940s to enable Aboriginal members of the company to develop an economic base from mining and pastoralism in the Pilbara region in north-western Australia. The methods by which this company operated and the impetus behind its formation, which stemmed from a pastoral strike and associated social movement, are instructive today. Nevertheless, this paper does not attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of this early movement and the associated companies of Pindan and Nomad. Rather, it aims to draw out and interrogate structural elements of these early organisations that can shed light on management issues of contemporary Indigenous organisations set up to harness economic and social development from major mines in the Pilbara region. As such, anthropological field research was undertaken to inform this contemporary project. Hence, the selective historical mapping within this paper focuses on the structure of leadership and the associated issues surrounding access to benefits within these early organisations. Questions are raised that will assist in the analyses and formulation of effective governance structures in this same region today. Researching the history of settlement and early development is an essential prologue to contextualising current Indigenous responses to mining and associated development.