Australia Tasmanian Aboriginal community hurt by lack of memorial, says government 'ignores' bloody history

03:17  04 march  2021
03:17  04 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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As regional Aboriginal community groups attempt to revive traditional place names, they are meeting resistance from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre which says there is only one authentic Aboriginal language in Tasmania today. "A lot of people in the wider community don't know the history or even see that there is an existing Aboriginal nation still here on this land," she said . "It's very important to us to keep sharing our knowledge and our culture and to bring the wider community into it so they can share it too."

a person holding a sign posing for the camera: The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's Nala Mansell says atrocities which happened closer to home should be memorialised. (ABC News: Loretta Lohberger) © Provided by ABC NEWS The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's Nala Mansell says atrocities which happened closer to home should be memorialised. (ABC News: Loretta Lohberger)

Tasmania's Aboriginal community leaders say it is hurtful there is still no memorial recognising the state's bloody history, despite the announcement this week of a planned multi-million dollar Holocaust education centre for Hobart.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced plans for the centre on Tuesday, saying the federal government would commit $2 million towards it.

Nala Mansell, campaign manager for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, said while it was important to remember and reflect on atrocities committed as part of World War II, history much closer to home was being ignored.

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In 1830 the government set up the Aborigines Committee to look into why Tasmanians were so hostile. It mainly blamed Tasmanian treachery and savagery – not its own robbery of their land. By the 1850s the genocide was already being written off as “natural” and “inevitable”, what the late 1800s would see as From the 1920s to 1970s the government took their children from them to teach them White ways. Since the 1990s there have been some land given back and apologies made. The G-word: Most Australian historians do not regard it as genocide – that would require proof of “intent”.

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"There was a massive war that took place here in Tasmania," Ms Mansell said.

"There are still no monuments acknowledging the Aboriginal resistance fighters of those who lost their lives and there are certainly no museums to educate people on the history and treatment of Aboriginal people and that's a disgrace," she said.

"While Aboriginal history is completely ignored, we see state and federal governments offering millions of dollars for other groups who have also been victimised."

In the 19th century, the government tried to rid Tasmania of its native people through massacres and individual killings.

It caused the state's Aboriginal population to fall from somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 in 1803, to a couple of hundred in the 1830s.

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Offensive Tasmanian place names including Niggerhead Rock, Suicide Bay and Victory Hill will be replaced by Aboriginal words under a proposal put to the Nomenclature Board. Tasmanian toponymist Wayne Smith said Niggerhead Rock was understood to have been given its name because of its resemblance to a black person's head. "I can understand why people would want to change that," he said . The TAC has also proposed dual names for three sites at the north-west point of Tasmania : pilri for Cape Grim, ranamitim for the Doughboys and layrimanuk for Woolnorth Point.

In Tasmania , the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is subordinate to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre who control all government funding and also control what books on Aboriginal history schools and libraries in Tasmania can have, unapproved books are banned as are records of their own pre 1996 oral This article points out the confusion caused by the death of the 'last full- blood ' Trugernanner or Fanny Cochrane Smith for those unaware of the survival of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture after forced migration to the mainland and later returns to traditional homelands by these survivors - but implying

Rodney Dillon, co-chair of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Regional Communities Alliance (TRACA), said he also supported the proposed Holocaust centre but said a lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing against Aboriginal people was a widespread problem.

"Our people here were slaughtered for their land — men, women and children — and I think it's a tragedy that isn't recognised," Mr Dillon said.

"They can recognise every other tragedy in the world first before those that happened here.

"The first war was here in this country on our people and there's nothing to recognise that, and it makes me so angry and sad."

Memorial 'long overdue'

There are many examples of atrocities committed against Tasmania's native people.

The Black War, which took place from the mid-1820s until around 1832, included multiple massacres, like at Cape Grim in 1828 when 30 Aboriginal men were shot and thrown off the cliffs after trying to protect women from sexual assault by white settlers.

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It all culminated in the few hundred surviving Aboriginal people being forced into exile at Wybalenna on Flinders Island, where many died of disease and malnutrition.

Lyndall Ryan, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Newcastle, specialises in Tasmanian Aboriginal history and has mapped massacre sites across the state.

"It's a story that is known across the world and a Tasmanian doesn't have to travel far to find that just about everyone else knows the awful story about the near-genocide of Tasmanian Aboriginal people," Professor Ryan said.

She said a memorial of the events in Tasmania was "long overdue".

"I find it extraordinary that there isn't, at the same time as a Holocaust memorial, a memorial erected to acknowledge what happened to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and to make recompense," Professor Ryan said.

"We really need a memorial to the Black War, to the terrible loss of life and an acknowledgement that there was a concerted attempt to destroy the Tasmanian Aboriginal people," she said.

Ms Mansell said she didn't mind what form the memorial took, but it was necessary that something be done so her people could move forward.

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"It's a very shameful history that we have here, but it's impossible to move forward until we acknowledge the past and start talking about how we can move forward together," Mr Mansell said.

"It's great to see the state and federal government can empathise with some people, it's important for us to learn about the tragic history of people all over the world.

"But it's really upsetting and disappointing to feel like the lives of our ancestors that were lost have no meaning to the government."

Mr Dillon said all levels of government had to be held accountable.

"This country has never been able to do that … our country has never matured enough to recognise the wrongs of the past," he said.

State Aboriginal Affairs Minister Roger Jaensch said the government was always open to discussions about what more could be done.

"We are committed to closing the gap, resetting the relationship and reconciliation with Tasmania's Aboriginal People," Mr Jaensch said.

Mr Jaensch also pointed to ongoing reviews of the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the model for land returns.

"Importantly, we are working hard to address generations of silence on the subject of Tasmania's Aboriginal history and culture by bringing Tasmanian Aboriginal voices into our schools," he said.

Federal Minister for Aboriginal Australians Ken Wyatt was contacted for comment.

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