Today is the anniversary of the Mabo decision, in which the High Court of Australia decided that terra nullius should never have been applied to Australia. Eddie had fought a long, exhausting and divisive battle for his people in the Torres Strait and for indigenous people throughout Australia. This decision meant that native title was recognised under law -- title that now encompasses more than 1 million square kilometres of land.
Eddie did not live to see this decision. He died five months before the ruling, in January 1992. In National Reconciliation Week and for all time, he is remembered.
This poem is for Eddie, for Oodgeroo, for Vincent Lingiarri, and for all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have reminded us that we share this land.
Long time past and yesterday the sparrows brushed the sky away with browning wings. The summer arch collapsed upon the bloody soil, and old ones dug in deep.
The billabong has rippled long beneath your limbs, red father. You were young and slender when they walked hide-sheltered feet deaf across her back.
I am new, old one and white as ghost gum dreaming. Sorry-specked and sunburnt, one foot ochre yearning, one far cloud seeking.
Long time come, you thunder to me and rain-washed parrots build you with their wings. Blood, soil, summer sleep and rainbows:
Dream us one.
More information can be found at Reconciliation Australia https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/NRW2014_3-June-Mabo_FactS.pdf