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Australia's Fraser Island Reclaims K'gari, Its Original Indigenous Name

Lake Mckenzie sits in the middle of K'gari, formerly known as Fraser Island, in Australia. The Aboriginal people in the region, the Butchulla, had been advocating for the name change for years.
Lake Mckenzie sits in the middle of K'gari, formerly known as Fraser Island, in Australia. The Aboriginal people in the region, the Butchulla, had been advocating for the name change for years.

A tourist hot spot off the coast of Australia, Fraser Island, will once again be known as K'gari, its original Indigenous name, the Queensland government announced.

The island, which is located roughly 200 miles north of Brisbane on the eastern coast of Australia, was inhabited by the Butchulla Aboriginal people for thousands of years. They have been advocating for the island's name to be reverted back to its original name — which translates to paradise — for years, the Queensland government said.

The name Fraser comes from Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman who was shipwrecked on the island in the 1800s and, after she was rescued, claimed the island's native people mistreated her.

Jade Gould, the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson, said Fraser's narrative "directly lead to the massacre and dispossession of the Butchulla people."

"A word meaning paradise in Butchulla language is a much more fitting name for such an iconic place," Gould said in a statement.

The move to rename the island, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was celebrated Saturday with a ceremony that included Butchulla representatives and elders, the government said.

"On behalf of the Butchulla people we pay respect to our Elders who are no longer with us to hear this news," Kate Doolan of the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation said. "Today is a time of reflection for our people and for those souls who long advocated for such a meaningful change over such a lengthy period of time."

The name of the national park on the island was changed to K'gari in 2017, but Butchulla advocates kept pushing for the entire island to revert back to its original name.

And K'gari isn't the only national park in Queensland to go through a name change. Meaghan Scanlon, the state's environmental minister, said Naree Budjong Djara National Park and Gheebulum Kunungai National Park have both been changed in recent years. The parks are both located lnd that is home to the Quandamooka, another Aboriginal people.

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