Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights

Northern Territory

Protestors at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Protestors at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
NAA: A6180,14/3/74/338

When Captain Cook claimed eastern Australia for the King of Great Britain in 1770, it was not acknowledged that the land had been inhabited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for tens of thousands of years. In 1975, over two centuries later, the Gurindji people of the Northern Territory became the first Aboriginal people to be granted leasehold title to their native lands. The High Court of Australia, in the 1992 Mabo decision, overturned the idea that the land of Australia was terra nullius (land belonging to no one) when the British claimed sovereignty.

Get thinking

  • What were some of the obstacles faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people campaigning for land rights?
  • What were the methods used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activists in achieving land rights?
  • What is the significance of granting land rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

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