Fraser Island in Australia is the most recent location to reclaim its Aboriginal name.
The world’s largest sand island, which is roughly 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Brisbane, will now be named as K’Gari.
In the native Butchulla language, K’Gari means “heaven,” and the Butchulla people have been the proprietors and protectors of this area since far before European invasion and settlement.
The island, which has long been a popular tourist destination for both international and domestic visitors, was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992. It was praised for having “majestic remnants of towering rainforest growing on tall sand dunes, a phenomena considered to be unique in the world,” according to the report.
The eastern ground parrot and the Fraser Island sand skink are among the uncommon or endangered species that call it home. The island is already known as K’Gari by UNESCO.
On September 19, as part of the renaming event, a traditional smoking ritual was conducted at the Kingfisher Bay Resort.
In a statement, Meaghan Scanlon, Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, said that the name change “recognizes and celebrates the Butchulla peoples and their traditions, culture, and their continued connection to Country.”
“The Palaszczuk Government (Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk) acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions and customs, which reflect a lasting and continuous relationship to Country for over 60,000 years,” she said.
Community members warn, however, that restoring the old name may not be the final chapter in this narrative.
In a statement, Jade Gould, a spokesman for the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC), stated, “We have been working for years to alter the island’s name.” “However, if the Queensland government does not acknowledge our rights, it is a hollow symbol.”
The Native Title Act was passed by Australia’s federal government in 1993, allowing authorities to acknowledge an Indigenous group’s ownership of their customary territory.
Over the last several decades, other Australian locations have changed or reverted to Aboriginal names. Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, is the most renowned.
Gheebulum Kunungai National Park Mulgumpin is the official name for what was formerly known as Moreton Island in Queensland.
Indigenous people make up roughly 3% of Australia’s population at the moment.