The Tasmanian genocide


Trugannini_1866 Truganini in 1866, the last full-blooded Tasmanian

The Tasmanian genocide (fl. 1826-1829) is where Whites from Britain wiped out nearly all the people of Tasmania, then called Van Diemen’s Land, now part of Australia. They sent the few hundred that remained to prison camps where they died of disease and despair. Truganini (pictured), the last full-blooded Tasmanian, died in 1876.

There were 6,000 Tasmanians. They had lived in Tasmania for 30,000 years. They were hunter-gatherers, each band with its own lands which it hunted and maintained with controlled burnings.

In 1803 Whites began to arrive.

On paper Tasmanians had the full and equal protection of British law. In practice, though, even when the government knew of “murders and abominable cruelties” committed by Whites against Tasmanians, it did nothing.

Despite killings, there was an uneasy peace of sorts. Whites lived along the coast. Most of the good hunting lands were still in Tasmanian hands.


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