Man Turns Down Billions for His Ancestral Homeland
Though his tribal land is worth an estimated $5 billion, an Aboriginal man refuses to sell it, instead keeping it as a legacy for his family.
A stunning vista of jagged brick-red cliffs lies in Australia’s desolate Northern Territory. As breathtaking as the scenery is, though, most people are more concerned with what lies beneath Koongarra: A massive deposit of uranium worth $5 billion.
Just one man, 36-year-old Jeffrey Lee, holds the title to this unfathomably valuable piece of real estate – and he says it’s not for sale.
Lee, an Australian Aborigine, won’t condone the destruction of his ancestral land at any cost. As the sole survivor of the Djok clan, he believes that he has a grave responsibility to protect Koongarra and the rest of his tribe’s native lands from harm.
“There are sacred sites, there are burial sites and there are other special places out there which are my responsibility to look after,” Lee told The Sydney Morning Herald.
So, rather than rubbing elbows with Donald Trump andRichard Branson on the Forbes billionaire list, Lee has rejected all requests to purchase Koongarra. He is committed to protecting it from uranium mining, which would poison the land and destroy its fragile ecosystem.
It’s a shocking choice, to be sure – but Lee has no need for a fleet of yachts, his own island, or any other trappings of the decadent life. His desire is simply to preserve the legacy of his ancestral tribe.
So instead of selling Koongarra to a mining company, Lee plans to incorporate his homeland into Kakadu National Park, where “it will be protected and safe forever,” he said.
Lee’s incredible sacrifice isn’t just about salvaging the past: It’s about protecting the future, too. Even though he has no children yet, he believes that access to the sacred ancestral land is the greatest gift that he can provide for his future offspring.
“I was taken all through here on the shoulder of my grandmother,” said Lee. “I heard all the stories and learnt everything about this land, and I want to pass it all on to my kids.”
Originally published August 16th, 2007
Want more inspiration? Check out 25 Amazing Websites and Online Resources for Inspiration, Positivity, and More Good News.Filed under: Green, Heroes,
Liked this? You'll love these, too:
A Fallen Soldier’s Last Gift: Bruce Hays and the Apache Project
After soldier Bruce Hays died in Afghanistan, his Wisconsin neighbors worked to restore an old truck that he'd promised to his wife Terry. Read More
Positive Stories from the Aurora, Colorado Movie Theater Shooting Tragedy
Here are a few signs of hope to come out of the tragic shooting at "Batman Rises" in Aurora, Colorado. Read More
Tim’s Place: The Restaurant that Serves Breakfast with a Side of Hugs
Tim Harris, a young man with Down's syndrome, hasn't let his disability stop him from opening a restaurant in New Mexico. Read More
6 Good Reasons to Buy Locally
Check out these benefits for buying your fruit and vegetables from a local farmer or market. Read More
Five Ways to Help Your Kids Go Green
Try these tips to help your children become more eco-friendly. Read More
To our free daily newsletter, featuring good news from around the world, exclusive interviews with changemakers, guest columns, and subscriber-only weekly giveaways and special offers. Your privacy is secure with us, we will never spam you or sell your email address. Enter your email address below or click here to learn more about what you will receive.
- Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing Nothing
- Miracle Fruit Makes (Almost) Everything Delicious
- Hachiko: The World’s Most Loyal Dog
- Liam Hoekstra, Superbaby: Toddler Born with Superhuman Strength
- Mugging Attempt Gets Thwarted by Real-Life Ninjas