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Historynotes Aussie Aboriginals Claim Reward

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  • REality
    11:33 AM ET 04/13/99 *1105
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 1999
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      11:33 AM ET 04/13/99

      *1105< ^AP-Australia-Outlaw-Reward

      Aussie Aboriginals Claim Reward

      BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ A $60 million claim by descendants of
      two Aboriginal trackers who helped capture notorious outlaw Ned
      Kelly in 1880 was given a reprieve Tuesday by the Queensland Court
      of Appeal.
      The lawsuit against the Victorian and Queensland governments
      over 100 pounds in reward money allegedly never paid to the two men
      was struck down by a state Supreme Court judge last year on the
      basis that the descendants had no right to represent the dead men's
      estates.
      However, the court found Tuesday the case brought by the
      descendants of Queensland Native Mounted Police trackers Jack Noble
      (Wannamutta) and Gary Owens (Werannallee) ``was not useless or
      futile.''
      In a split two-to-one decision, it decided the case should be
      stayed, allowing it to be revived and possibly proceed to trial.
      Kelly was Australia's equivalent of Jesse James, and debate
      still flares today about whether he was a mere murderer and thief,
      or a gallant renegade avenging British persecution of his family.
      From 1878-80, Kelly led a bold gang that robbed banks and killed
      policemen, protected by sympathetic villagers in rural Victoria
      state.
      The Victoria state government, frustrated by an 18-month series
      of fiascoes in trying to track down the Kelly gang, hired six
      Aboriginal trackers to help find him.
      But after the members of the Kelly gang were captured and
      killed, the Victoria and Queensland state governments declined to
      give the trackers their share of the reward. Only about 60 white
      men involved in the final chase got paid.
      The Victorian state government decided in 1881 it ``would not be
      desirable to place any considerable sum of money in the hands of
      any person unable to use it'' and gave the Aborigines' rewards to
      the Queensland and Victorian state governments instead, ``to be
      dealt with at their discretion.''
      The descendants of Wannamutta and Werannallee sued the Victorian
      and Queensland governments, demanding more than $60 million for the
      reward and interest accrued since 1880.
      The Kelly gang's rampage began in 1878, when Ned's brother Dan
      resisted arrest and allegedly tried to kill a policeman. Ned and
      Dan Kelly formed their gang after their mother was imprisoned as a
      result of that confrontation.
      They robbed banks at Euroa in 1878 and Glenrowan in 1879,
      killing three policemen.
      In June 1880, the Kelly gang held the town of Glenrowan hostage
      in a pub when they heard that a train full of police had been sent
      to capture them.
      In their final clash with police, Dan Kelly and two other gang
      members were killed and Ned Kelly was wounded and captured. He was
      tried for murder and hanged in Melbourne in 1880.

      --

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