Three young aborigines set out from Sydney Friday to march 200 miles to Canberra, the national capital, where they will join a demonstration to protest government policy on native land rights.
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Background: Three young aborigines set out from Sydney Friday to march 200 miles to Canberra, the national capital, where they will join a demonstration to protest government policy on native land rights.
Brian Marshall and his wife, from Kempsey in northern New South Wales were joined by Charles Moore from Broken Hill. Marshall walked out of Sydney carrying a spear. They said two more aborigines were supposed to join the march but they could not get time off work.
The party will link with members of the Australian "black power" movement who have set up camp outside Parliament House, Canberra. They say they will stay their indefinitely until the government acts on aboriginal ownership of their tribal areas. In a policy statement Australian Prime Minister William McMahon announced new style land leases for aborigines. However, to qualify for leases, aborigines will have to show they intend, and are able, to make reasonable economic and social use of the land. The new definitions of policy arise from a ruling by the Northern Territory Supreme Court that Australian law does not recognise aboriginal title to land.
The marchers hope to attract other aborigines to make the long "walkabout" to Canberra where a petition will be presented to the government.
They will demand immediate ownership of reserves, compensation for loss of land and preservation of sacred sites. Aborigine groups have been protesting against government action in allowing mining companies to operate on land held sacred by tribes in their age-old worship of nature.
During their march through Sydney the three aborigines were both cheered and laughed at -- and they now face a few hard days on the road.