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Eddie Mabo Eddie Mabo i(A55153 works by) (birth name: Eddie Koiki Sambo) (a.k.a. Edward Koiki Mabo; Koiki Mabo; Koiki Eddie Mabo)
Born: Established: 29 Jun 1936 Murray Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, ; Died: Ceased: 21 Jan 1992 Brisbane, Queensland,
Gender: Male
Heritage: Torres Strait Islander
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Eddie Mabo is the son of Robert Zezou Sambo and Annie Mabo of the Piadaram clan. After Eddie's mother died in childbirth, he was adopted under customary law by his uncle Benny Mabo and aunt Maiga. In the 1950's Eddie worked on various trochus fishing luggers out of Mer. At the age of seventeen he was exiled from Mer by the Island Council. Eddie moved to the mainland and worked at various labouring jobs and at the age of twenty three he married Bonnie Nehow and they had 10 children.

In 1960 Eddie became a union representative on the rail construction project in Mt Isa. From 1962 Eddie was secretary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League and after the referendum in 1967 he helped organise a seminar in Townsville called 'We the Australians: What is to Follow the Referendum'. Dissolusioned by the League he resigned and became President of the all-black Council for the Rights of Indigenous People, which established a legal aid service, a medical service, and the Black community school.

A gardener at the James Cook University in Townsville, Eddie would sit in on seminars and would also go to the University library to read. He developed friendships with Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds and was invited to speak at a Land Rights conference. After the conference a lawyer approached him and suggested there should be a test case to claim land rights through the court system. In 1973 Eddie travelled to Thursday Island en route to Mer with the intention of visiting his dying father, but the Mabo family were denied entry.

In 1981 Eddie enrolled in a Diploma of Teaching at the Townsville College and he continued to be a member of many Indigenous organisations. Over the years he has held various positions in the areas of the arts, education, law, housing and employment and training. After his death in 1992 the Australian announced Eddie Mabo Australian of the Year.

Eddie Mabo had become a significant figure in Australian history for his role in campaigning for Aboriginal land rights. For more than a decade, Mabo fought for legal recognition regarding the 'continued ownership of land by local indigenous Australians'. Mabo's fight for Native Title led to the landmark 'Mabo decision' by the High Court of Australia in 1992. This judgement overturned the doctrine of terra nullius which held the view that Australia, which includes the Torres Strait Islands was 'legally unocccupied at the time of European settlement'.



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Last amended 27 Sep 2019 13:57:16
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