The first ships with convicts on board arrived from Britain to Australia, as it is known, in 1788. By that time, about 70,000 years the Australian continent and the surrounding islands had been inhabited by the local indigenous people, that is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The natives were traditional nomadic hunter-gatherer life. Men hunted large animals. Women and children were engaged in picking fruit and berries, and on occasion caught and killed small animals for eating.
Aborigines have lived in harmony with nature. Earth gave them not only a livelihood. It was everything for them – was the center of their spiritual life, was the source of their identity. It was believed that the earth inextricably links the world departed ancestors with the world of the living.
The land was in the public domain, rather than in separate private hands. This meant, first and foremost, the responsibility for its aboriginal folk “ritual possession,” and all living things on it. It was the main and only principle, and not only the right to live on this land or use it for the sake of economic benefits. Boundaries of territorial possessions were natural landmarks – the rivers, lakes and mountains. It was believed that the land cannot be sold, purchased or donated.
Aborigines had no written language, and so they passed the laws and traditions of the people to subsequent generations through song, dance, art and oral histories.
And here on the mainland, inhabited by natives, the British landed. They were inhabitants of a completely different part of the world, who lived by quite different laws – according to European international laws that have been established in the XVIII century, during the continental conquests. The discovered land was recognized terra nullius and became the property of the state, “discovered” the land.
We cannot say if the British government did not know that the territory of Australia was inhabited and the indigenous population would certainly claim the land. But British invaders and their government believed that Aboriginal and Islander of Toressa were too primitive to own the land in the European sense of the word. In addition, the settlers have not found the natives familiar to Europeans governments with which the British government could negotiate the acquisition of land.
And it began a ruthless grip. Aborigines were powerless against firearms and European diseases. They lost. Nevertheless, they continued to stubbornly defend their rights. The fight that has been lasting for 200 years.
Peak point of this struggle was the judicial analysis of the land claim, which in 1982 filed in the High Court of Australia natives Eddie Mabo, David Passi, and James Rice of Meriam Island tribe. Plaintiffs set out to establish the rightful owners of the islands Mer, Daur and Veyer – places of traditional habitat of Meriam tribe.
Ten years have passed. Finally, June 3, 1992 the Supreme Court decided. In favor of the plaintiffs. The Court rejected the idea that dominated the “white” society in the beginning of the European colonization – the “no-man” of Australian territories. Supreme arbiter unconditionally admitted that before meeting with the Europeans, indigenous peoples to manage natural resources on traditional land law.