Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Google doodle pays tribute to Indigenous land rights activist Eddie Mabo

Indigenous land rights activist Eddie Mabo has been recognised by the search engine Google with a Google doodle to mark his birthday.

Wednesday's Google homepage logo features a portrait of Mr Mabo in front of Murray (Mer) Island and the design was developed in consultation with Mr Mabo's daughter Gail Mabo.

Mr Mabo died in 1992 but would have turned 80 today.

A Google spokesman said it was a privilege to honour Mr Mabo in this way.

"Google doodles often celebrate milestone birthdays of people who have helped shape our history," the spokesman said.

"We're proud to honour Eddie Mabo's legacy with a doodle."

Uncle Harrison George, who is related to Eddie Mabo through his grandfather, said it was very positive to have an international company recognise Mr Mabo's work.

"What was won on the third of June 1992 was actually a precedent that was set for Indigenous people around the world," Mr George said.

"A lot of Indigenous people are actually struggling for their land rights and native title and a lot of them today are using the concept of what the Eddie Mabo case was all about.

"Eddie should be on Google because in a couple of months, [it] will be the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples."
Eddie Mabo's long fight for native title

Eddie 'Koike' Mabo was born on Murray Island in the Torres Strait but spent most of his adult life in Townsville.

He helped establish the Aboriginal and Islander Health Service and the Townsville Black Community School which taught traditional culture and language in addition to the state curriculum.

Mr Mabo and four others lodged a claim for land on Murray Island in 1982 which eventually went before the High Court and led to the creation of the Native Title Act in 1993.

Mr Mabo died just a few months before the court's ruling on June 3, 1992.

Uncle Aurie Marou remembers Mr Mabo from their school days on Murray Island.

He said Mr Mabo was a humble and respectful person who achieved great things.

"He was just a normal bloke, he just lived like an islander, he was not a warrior, he was a humble person," Mr Marou said.

He said at the time many on the island opposed Mr Mabo's activism and doubted he would succeed in his land claims.

"They are traditional owners too, they think that Eddie Mabo is going to claim the whole of Murray Island and that is why they go against him," Mr Marou said.

"But they don't really know what he is doing and what he is looking forward to.

"They think 'Oh, Eddie Mabo is going to go to jail' but when the decision was made, everyone followed him and he was a true leader."

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