GENOCIDE OF TASMANIAN ABORIGINALS "IS" IT HAPPENING AGAIN?
to the editor - Mercury September 4th, 1999
to 'Whites in the woodpile' by Georgina Warner
A discussion on Tasmanian Aboriginality
only one view of Aboriginal culture is available to the general public. It is
sourced from the dominant Tasmanian Aboriginal group, whose perspective on
Tasmanian Aboriginality is based on the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center (TAC)
people are forced to believe only one point of view exists, because the media
never gave "the right of reply" to any Tasmanian Aboriginal group.
spokesperson for the TAC only speaks for those represented by the dominant
Aboriginal group. This group does not speak for the entire Tasmanian Aboriginal
The TAC is
currently the supposed spokesperson for the Aboriginal community, while it is
has the highest profile, it is representative of only one small Tasmanian
Aboriginal group in Tasmania, and only represents ONE part of the community and
NOT the entire Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.
the rest of us who have always known our family history, and through historical
'luck' were never part of the oppression of an Aboriginal mission. We are
entitled to be heard, or are our voices to be silenced by ignorance like those
of our Ancestors.
1970s the world "knew" that the Tasmanian Aboriginal was
"extinct". Even those on the Bass Strait Islands denied their
Aboriginality and claimed they were only an "Islander Community".
early 1970s and 1995 the Tasmanian Aboriginal population was accepted from
across the state of Tasmania and the off shore Islands. Family histories and
acceptance by the wider Aboriginal community of our Aboriginal heritage was
enough for recognition.
of ATSIC and the Federal Government's defination were acceptable for all. Many
of us were the ultimate "lost Children" of Aboriginal society -
forgotten and denied existence by government policies of the nineteenth century,
which wanted a final solution to the Tasmanian Aboriginal problem. We were then
further denied our ancestry because of the "shame factor" of an
all Tasmanian Aboriginal people were encouraged by the then 'Tasmanian
Aboriginal community' to become educated. This was to enable us to rectify the
historical wrongs of the past.
As a whole
integrated community we worked together to educate people about our history. As
a whole community we erected the infrastructure of the TAC, Tasmanian Aboriginal
Land Council (TALC) Tasmanian Aboriginal Education Association (TAEA) and the
other smaller affiliated groups.
for the greater Tasmanian Aboriginal community, it was this wielding of
unimaginable power, by some of those descended from the Bass Strait Islands,
that became a heady intoxicant.
It was this
component of radical Aboriginal people, who decreed in 1996 that those rules
from the Federal Parliament on Aboriginality, were inaccurate and insufficient
for Tasmania, and that they, the dominant Aboriginal group, would define the
rules which would recognise who was Tasmanian Aboriginal.
rules vary from any other Aboriginal community in Australia, and only favour the
heritage of the Bass Strait Islands is considered irrelevant by those places
where 'rights to appeal' can be obtained.
to be no appeal as to how for a lifetime you can be Tasmanian Aboriginal, and
then by the whim of a powerful minority you are no longer Tasmanian Aboriginal.
Yet this has
officially taken place in Tasmania.
us have been denied recognition by the dominant Aboriginal group and its
affiliates. Recommendations by this group are also made to government
departments, which are then followed without question, by the uninformed
majority who make up Australia's population.
We are called
"wanabees", box tickers, and it is whispered that we are "not
Aboriginal" and doors close. This does not stop us being Tasmanian
Aboriginal. After all what is a name?
is true that there are box tickers who are Aboriginal for the financial gain,
and in Tasmania, a high percentage of these have the "white genealogy"
that is the only acceptance for Aboriginality by the dominant group.
anyone want to be Aboriginal if they weren't? This is a question which is never
Aboriginal is not dependant on being accepted by a small faction of the
community. We the discarded Tasmanian Aboriginals gave the dominant group and
its affiliates the power they now wield with european patriarchal pride.
No one ever
asks the opinion of the remainder of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community who are
denied a voice. We are proud of our Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage, and the shame
and denial our Ancestors suffered. Why should we be racially denied our heritage
in the future because of a small but powerful fraction.
cleansing is a european trait. Aboriginal heritage historically accepted and
integrated non-Aboriginal people into their Kinship Groups (tribes) by
initiation. The historical records show that european men cohabited with
Tasmanian Aboriginal women from the beginning of the invasion.
can never be defined by the eurocentric rules of genealogy. In Tasmania even a
significient percentage of the non-Aboriginal population have difficulties in
doing a genealogy.
now in Tasmania we have one recognised Aboriginal group, which has one
recognised spokesperson, who decides the policies for the ethnic cleansing of
the remainder of Tasmania's Aboriginal population.
community is denied knowledge and education about the realities of Tasmanian
Aboriginal heritage, because only one view is publicly proclaimed as a
"truth". Political power and a high profile are all that counts.
is afraid to question the "truth" because their ignorance may be
construed as racist. The simplistic and incorrect Tasmanian Aboriginal
history which is currently foisted on the wider Tasmanian communities does not
make it true.
politically expedient in the nineteenth century to decree our
"extinction", even though at the same time, it was a recorded
historical lie. The historical records clearly states the truth about Tasmania's
Aboriginal populations from before 1804 and past 1860.
everyone was rounded up and removed to Flinders Island. Probably hundreds of
women were living with european men. 'Tribes' were still being recorded as
living free in 1847, corroborees were being held in the 1850-60s.
unrecorded that most Tasmanian Aboriginal people are proud of their Aboriginal
heritage. The shame and denial of the past is our heritage, and the pride of our
Ancestry is our future.
We do not
need the racists perspective of one small group to tell us who we are. The media
should give all community representatives the opportunity to state their case,
before taking sides, which sadly only shows their ignorance to Tasmania's
Aboriginal history and heritage.
McPherson (BSc. Hons) November 1999