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The Mabo Case
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By the beginning of the 1980's some legal observers believed that if the right case was brought to the High Court there might finally be, in Justice Deane's words, a "retreat from injustice" in Australia, similar to that which had been reached in American law in the 1820's and 1830's.

The "right" case seemed to arrive in 1981 when Eddie Mabo decided to go to court.

No one could argue that the Meriam people did not 'cultivate the soil', for as Justice Brennan noted, they were "devoted gardeners". And it would be hard to argue that the Murray Islanders' relationship to their lands was not 'proprietary'. The evidence showed they owned land as individuals and as families, and had clearly demarcated property boundaries.

The major challenge was to persuade the High Court that the Common Law of Australia, properly considered, does provide recognition and protection for the pre-existing land rights of the Indigenous peoples.
We Won!
Image
Jun, 3, 1992
determinations, High Court Decision, 03/06/1992, High Court victory, Mabo, Bonita, Mabo Case, Mabo family, Townsville
High Court in Canberra: Mabo & legal council
Image
1991
Canberra, Castan, Ron, High Court Decision, 03/06/1992, High Court of Australia, Keon-Cohen, Bryan, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, McIntyre, Greg
Koiki pointing to boundary marker
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May, 1989
boundary markers, High Court Decision, 03/06/1992, land boundaries, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Mer, Supreme Court of Queensland
Travelling to Dauer
Image
May, 1989
Dauar, Keon-Cohen, Bryan, Kobere, Henry, Mabo, Edward Koiki, McIntyre, Greg, Mer, Rice, James, sea claims
...since time immemorial...
Video
 
annexation, Land Bilong Islanders, Mabo v Queensland No.1, Mer, Murray Island
...it's from my ancestor...
Video
 
Land Bilong Islanders, land boundaries, Mer, Meriam culture, Murray Island, Rice, James
...clearly defined boundaries...
Video
1989
inheritance, Land Bilong Islanders, land boundaries, land ownership, McIntyre, Greg, Mer, Murray Island
The Skeleton Of Principle
Text
1992
Attorney-General (NSW) v Brown, 1847 , Australian Court Case, Brennan, Justice Gerard, Canberra, Common Law, crown land, doctrine of tenure, High Court judgement, High Court of Australia, High Court of Australia, Mabo judgement, Privy Council, Queensland Government, sovereignty
Property & Inheritance
Topic
 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, inheritance, land ownership, Meriam culture, property
Time Immemorial
Topic
 
Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, native title
Land Boundaries
Topic
 
boundary markers, clans, inheritance, land ownership, land use, oral tradition
Meriam Land Disputes
Topic
 
Dauar, Depoma, Marwer, land boundaries, land ownership, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Malo's laws, Malo's laws, Mer, Meriam culture, Meriam history, Murray Island Native Court, sea rights, trespass, Waier
Meriam Land
Topic
 
inheritance, land ownership, Meriam culture, Meriam history, oral tradition
US Domestic Dependent Nation Doctrine
Topic
1823
indigenous people, International law, treaties, United States of America
Aboriginal Rights & Title In Canada
Topic
1973-1982
Aboriginal Title, Canada, First Nations Canada, native title, treaties, United States of America
The Murray Islanders' Evidence
Topic
1986
evidence, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Murray Island, plaintiffs, witnesses
The Laws Of Malo
Topic
 
indigenous law, Malo's laws, Malo-Bomai, Meriam culture, Meriam history, Murray Island, religion, sacred, sacred
Sea Claims
Topic
 
Federal Government, Australia, fish traps, fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Meriam culture, sacred, sea rights
Sea Rights
Topic
 
Federal Government, Australia, fishing, Meriam culture, sea rights
Boundaries & Markers
Topic
 
land ownership, Las, Mer, Meriam culture, Murray Island
Land Bilong Islanders - Mabo
Topic
 
Great Northern expedition, land ownership, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Malo's laws, Mer, Meriam culture, Moynihan, Justice Martin, Murray Island, sea rights
Mabo Case Commences
Topic
1982
claim, High Court of Australia, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, plaintiffs
Seafarers & Food Growers
Topic
 
fishing, gardening, sea rights, seafarers
Terra Nullius & Australia
Topic
 
crown land, dispossession, doctrine of tenure, First Fleet, land rights, resistance, terra nullius
Great Northern Expedition
Topic
1989
Great Northern expedition, Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Mer, Moynihan, Justice Martin, Murray Island, Supreme Court of Queensland
The Mabo Decision
Topic
1992
High Court of Australia, Mabo judgement
Property And Inheritance
Text
 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, inheritance, land ownership, Meriam culture, property