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Hearsay & Oral Tradition
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Among the facts, which Islanders are attempting to prove to the court, is the existence of a traditional system of land ownership. They must also prove that such a system has survived beyond the island's annexation to Queensland and that Islanders are the rightful inheritors of distinct portions of land which their families have continuously occupied and maintained.

Eddie Mabo:
We're both Piadrem clansmen. We occupy this area of Las. And in the past, all this area was populated or inhabited by Piadrem people and they've done the same things over the years to protect themselves from the Sagir wind which is the trade wind of course.

Murray Islanders have an oral tradition of passing on land from one generation to the next. A father tells his son what plots of land he will inherit and points out those land boundaries.

But Australian courts disallow heresay; evidence which is based on what someone else has told you. Instead, they rely on written documents such as land titles and wills as proof of ownership and inheritance.

Howver the plaintiffs lawyers argue that the court must accept traditional oral evidence when determining land ownership because it's the foundation of Meriam culture.

Flo Kennedy:
Our lands were given to us by our ancestors and to us they are still alive. Their spirit still lives and to the white man he's dead. He's finished. To us we still have a responsibility to them. Now they've told us that the land is ours and we know it's ours because they've told us that and their fathers before them have told them that. It's the same story, you know.

No. Our legal documents are our ancestors that told us these things.
Property & Inheritance
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, inheritance, land ownership, Meriam culture, property
Science & Indigenous Australians
anthropology, Eyre, Edward John, land rights
The Murray Islanders' Evidence
evidence, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Murray Island, plaintiffs, witnesses
Eddie Mabo's Evidence & The Hearsay Hurdle
Feb, 1987
evidence, hearsay, Mabo, Edward Koiki, oral evidence, oral tradition, plaintiffs
More Arguments About Hearsay
evidence, hearsay, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Meriam culture, Moynihan, Justice Martin, oral evidence, oral tradition, plaintiffs, Supreme Court of Queensland
Queensland Witnesses
evidence, Mabo Case, Murray Island, witnesses
Las, Las, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Malo, Mer, Meriam culture, Meriam history, Murray Island, Piadaram, Zogo le
Failure To Agree On The Facts
High Court of Australia, Mabo Case, plaintiffs, Queensland, Supreme Court of Queensland
assimilation, Mer, Murray Island, Murray Island Council, Murray Island Native Court, Queensland, school
Legal Manoeuvres
High Court of Australia, plaintiffs, Queensland
Performance, Art & The Sacred
Malo's laws, Malo-Bomai, Mer, Murray Island, religion, sacred
The Eight Clans
clans, Mer, Meriam culture, Murray Island
The Leading Plaintiff
Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, plaintiffs
Property And Inheritance
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, inheritance, land ownership, Meriam culture, property