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Eddie Mabo is one of the most famous and significant Australian Aboriginals. He is famous for campaigning for Indigenous land rights. He was born on the 29th of June, 1946, on Murray Island, in the Torres Strait. Eddie Mabo married Bonita Newhow and together they had ten children. In 1982 Eddie Mabo and four other Torres Strait Islanders initiated action against the Australian Authorities calming ownership of their land on Murray Island. Eddie Mabo was exiled from Murray Island when he was sixteen.
During this time he lived and worked across Northern Queensland.
He began talking about his rights regarding his home land, after he was refused entry by the Australian authorities to return to Murray Island in order to visit his dying father. Soon after while having lunch with historians Henry Reynolds and Noel Loos, Mabo was made aware that the Australian Courts worked on the principal that Australia was “Terra Nullius”- land belonging to no one, prior to European Settlement.
A decision on this challenge was not given until 1990 and Mabo’s claim was rejected. Instead of appealing, Mabo took his claim to the High Court. Mabo was a father of ten children.
Mabo is also remembered as “The father of Aboriginal land rights in Australia.” He ended Terra Nullius in Australia. In Townsville, Mabo helped found cities, introduce Aboriginal health device and black community schools. As a teenager Eddie worked in the Torres Strait Islands on pearling boats. After this Eddie moved to Townsville and worked on trains. In 1959 at age 23, Eddie married Bonita Nehow.
He also worked at Captain Cook University as a gardener, where he listened to lectures and browsed the library.On the 3rd of June, 1923 (ten years after Mabo’s legal battle), the Australian High Court ruled that the Meriam Aboriginal people, held native tittle and ownership over Murray Island. This decision ended Terra Nullius and recognised native land rights in Australia. In 1993 Federal Parliament passed the ‘Native Title Act’, which opened the door for native land claims throughout Australia. Unfortunately, Mabo was not there to see his victory. He died of cancer, aged 55. This was just five months before the High Courts decision.
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