A Torres Straits Islander, he is a famous figure in Australian history for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights and his role in one landmark decision of Australia's High Court, overturning the legal fiction of terra nullius which characterised Australian law with regards to land and title. His mother died shortly after his birth and his maternal uncle, Benny Mabo and his wife were entrusted to raise him. In his youth, Eddie Mabo like other Murray Islanders was educated about his family's land.
As a child he participated in fishing and farming activities on Mer, absorbing Meriam culture. His first language was Meriam, but he also spoke Torres Strait Islander creole.
He learnt English at the state school with special assistance from one of his teachers, Bob Miles, who recognised his ability and stressed the importance of English for his future involvement in mainland culture. Fluency in English also placed him in leadership positions when he was in groups interacting with white Australians.
On 2 February the Murray Islands Court found Mabo guilty of drinking alcohol and exiled him for one year in accordance with community by-laws. He worked aboard fishing vessels until and then as a cane cutter and railway fettler in Queensland. During the s Mabo became involved in trade union politics, and became increasingly comfortable mixing with white people and adept at public speaking.
In he was appointed a union representative for Torres Strait Islanders on the Townsville-Mount Isa rail reconstruction project. What is to Follow the Referendum? This involvement increased after he was Eddie mabo at the university as a gardener c.
He sometimes sat in on lectures, and regularly used his lunch hour to study A. In he became president of the all-black Council for the Rights of Indigenous People.
A talented performer of Torres Strait Islander music and dance, Mabo was a member of the Australia Council for the Arts for four years from He was president of the Yumba Meta Housing Association Ltd —80an organisation that acquired houses in Townsville using Commonwealth funds and rented them to Indigenous tenants, and was employed by the Commonwealth Employment Service as an assistant vocational officer — Informed by Henry Reynolds and Loos that he and other Murray Islanders were not the legal owners of land inherited under Meriam custom and tradition, and that instead it was crown land, Mabo was shocked.
The conference attracted lawyers and others familiar with questions of Indigenous rights in both domestic and international contexts. Meanwhile, the Queensland government introduced legislation designed to retrospectively cancel any native title that might exist.
This judgment became known as Mabo v. In the High Court had passed the original land claim case to the Supreme Court of Queensland to determine the facts. The Supreme Court handed its findings to the High Court in Justice Martin Moynihan determined, on the basis of evidence presented to him, that Mabo had not been adopted by Benny and Maiga Mabo.
The community could prove native title: Of the original five plaintiffs, only two remained to present evidence to the High Court; Salee had died, and Sam Passi had withdrawn his claim.
Hearings began in the High Court in May and a verdict, in favour of community entitlements rather than individual claims, was delivered on 3 June During the preceding decade Mabo had pursued various lines of education and employment.
From to he was enrolled in an Aboriginal and Islander Teacher Education Program at the Townsville College of Advanced Education later, following amalgamation, James Cook Universitybut he did not finish the course. He was employed by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as a community arts liaison officer —88 for the Festival of Pacific Arts held in Townsville, and also served as vice-chairman of Magani Malu Kes, an organisation that stressed Torres Strait Islander identity and autonomy.
On 3 June an elaborate marble tombstone featuring a sculptured image of his face was unveiled in front of a large number of assembled guests. That night the grave was desecrated. On 18 September Mabo was reburied at Las. Throughout his life Mabo had demonstrated initiative, originality, determination, intelligence, and commitment to obtaining justice for Indigenous Australians and recognition of the traditional land rights of his family and people.
Following his death, and in the wake of Mabo No. In the Shire of Torres, and across other regions of Queensland, 3 June—known as Mabo Day—has been declared a bank holiday, a significant move given that for much of his life Mabo was regarded with hostility by many Meriam leaders.
Mabo Boulevard in the Canberra suburb of Bonner is named after him.
Select Bibliography Forbes, Cameron. Mabo in the Courts: Islander Tradition to Native Title: His Life and Struggle for Land Rights.Eddie Koiki Mabo was born on 29 June, , on the island of Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait.
His mother died giving birth and he was adopted by his uncle, Benny Mabo. His surname was changed from Sambo to Mabo and from an early age, Koiki was taught about his family’s land. Despite this, Eddie Mabo became one of the key influential figures in the Aboriginal rights movement, as his strong will, determination, and intelligence allowed him to bring about change.
Early Life Mabo was born on July the 25th, in the village of Laos on Murray Island. However, soon after his birth, his mother passed away.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was born on Murray Island, in the Torres Strait, on June 29, A member of the Meriam people, who know the island as Mer, Mabo was adopted and raised by his uncle, from whom. Despite this, Eddie Mabo became one of the key influential figures in the Aboriginal rights movement, as his strong will, determination, and intelligence allowed him to bring about change.
Early Life Mabo was born on July the 25th, in the village of Laos on Murray Island. However, soon after his birth, his mother passed away. Eddie Mabo had challenged the very ideological establishment of Australia and the first Australians. He had refused to surrender his interests, or those of his people, to the domination of others.
Mabo’s life has become the subject of academic scrutiny, art, literature, film and television; the television movie Mabo starring Jimi Bani was released in Mabo Boulevard in the Canberra suburb of Bonner is named after him.