Murrumu of Walubara and his son, Thoyo of Walubara, paddled in the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, among corals of electric purple and burnt orange, trumpetfish, sea cucumbers and giant clams.

They were 56km off the coast of Australia — or, as Walubara says, what most people refer to as Australia.

To him and his followers, the Great Barrier Reef is a part of the Yidinji Territory, a self-declared nation spanning more than 6,000 square miles in the northeastern part of the continent, which Walubara formed in 2014 but to which he says sovereignty was never ceded.

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