According to scientists, the time of arrival of the First Fleet (1788 ), indigenous peoples (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) inhabited the Australian continent and surrounding islands about 70,000 years old.
By keeping the traditional nomadic lifestyle of hunter-gatherers, men hunted hunting of large animals, women and the children were engaged in picking fruit and berries, and if need be and hunt small animals.
Like many other indigenous peoples living in harmony with nature, the earth not only provide Aboriginal people's livelihood, but also was the center of their spiritual life, a source of identity. It was believed that the world is living through a land inextricably linked to the world of the ancestors.
At the household level, the land was not in the individual and in the public domain, where the ownership is primarily meant no right to live or to use in for economic gain, how much responsibility for their own "ritual possession" and for all life on it. The boundaries of these lands were natural landmarks — the rivers, lakes and mountains. It was believed that the land can not be sold, purchased or donated.
With no written language, the natives passed laws and traditions to succeeding generations through song, dance, art and oral histories.
At the same time, according to the international laws of the 18th century, in the absence of obvious social and political systems, the newly "discovered" land recognized as terra nullius («void") and became the property of the state, "discovered" the land.
Although the British government did not deny the presence on the territory of the indigenous peoples of Australia, it was believed that Aboriginal and Islander Toressa were too primitive to own 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 purchase of land.
In the end, the natives were powerless against firearms and European diseases, although and continued in varying degrees, to assert their rights for the next 200 years.
The pinnacle of this struggle was a lawsuit filed by Eddie Mabo (Eddie Koiki Mabo), David Passi and James Rice, of the tribe of the island Merriam Marais Strait Toressa to the Supreme Court of Australia in 1982. Sued delivered Queensland annexed the islands in 1879. Plaintiffs set out to establish the rightful owners of islands Mer, Daur and Veyer — the traditional places of residence of the tribe Meriam.
In its decision of June 3 1992, the Supreme Court found that in pre-colonial times, indigenous people owned the land in accordance with traditional law actually exists to this day. The myth of "no man's land" of Australian territory was finally destroyed.
The Supreme Court affirmed the right of Aboriginal and Strait Islander Toressa own and use land in the places of their traditional habitat. This right has been called Native Title, in which state governments interested in acquiring the rights to develop natural resources, had to pay compensation to the traditional owners.
In commemoration of this event was announced on June 3 Day Mabo (Mabo Day). The most widely Mabo Day is celebrated in traditional indigenous communities, and on the islands Toressa this day is a holiday. Unfortunately, Eddie Mabo did not live up to this point. In January 1992, he died at the age of 56.