The Palawa Aboriginal People of Tasmania, Australia.
The Palawa represent the hardline political group that speaks through
the TAC (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre). The
TAC has a spokesperson, Michael Mansell, who claims he speaks for the entire
Aboriginal community but he only speaks for a minority of the Palawa community.
There is considerable confusing within the broader Tasmanian community as
to who is and is not Aboriginal. This
is a situation that TAC Palawa have encouraged.
While government policies on Tasmanian Aboriginality are for the benefit
of all Tasmanian Aboriginal people, practices are quite different.
The Palawa have been allowed by two successive governments to form a
dictatorship for a minority. It has
become a situation of political correctness by those administering and writing
the policies, to allow the TAC to write the rules for us all.
This is both undemocratic and un-Australian, besides being non
They claim their ancestry as a Bass Strait Island heritage through
Manalaganna, his granddaughter Dolly Dalrymple and Fanny Cochran Smith.
Today because they lied to two successive governments about Tasmanian
Aboriginal history, demand and were allowed to decided Aboriginality at a state
level, they now determine who can and who cannot access monies and services for
Aboriginal people in Tasmania. With
a Palawa definition of Aboriginality it is only “well known family names”
originating from the Bass Strait Island community that can be recognised as
Tasmanian Aboriginal in Tasmania. The
most common base names are Maynard, Brown, Burgess, Mansell, Smith, Thomas,
Everett, Gower and several others.
This limited self-determining identification process is currently
dictating the Aboriginality of every person who claims Tasmanian Aboriginal
descent. If “you are not from one
of these families then you are told you are not Aboriginal”.
It is acknowledged by others with the exception of the Palawa, who
ignore their non Aboriginal ancestors, that today’s Tasmanian Aboriginal has a
dual heritage, European and Aboriginal. This
is not to deny that Aboriginal culture and heritage has been continued since
before the invasion in 1803. The
problem lies with the Palawa belief that the sole survival of the Tasmanian
Aboriginal was in the Bass Strait Islands. The Palawa deny that Tasmanian Aboriginal of today has two
separate and very different lines of descent, heritage, culture and history,
woven into the both the landscape and the invasion policies of the British.
To the TAC Palawa is the only line of descent
What the Palawa have ignored is that when you allow white academics to
define your heritage you must incorporate their theories of your existence into
your heritage. There have been so
many diverse theories over the last hundred years that the real history of the
Palawa has become confused and almost lost within theoretical debate.
Even genealogical lineage is determined by white theories that have been
adapted to determine Aboriginality. Much
of the Palawa claims are not documented within the historical record and a
considerable amount of historical dialogue suggests that they have adapted their
historical existence to a false premise. They
are descended from women abducted from sealers and yes they are the descendants
from the Tasmanian Aboriginal mission on Cape Barren Island.
However, what they are forcing on an ignorant public is not a documented
history of their heritage but a fabrication based in theory.
The Palawa have a distinct multi
racial island cultural heritage that has evolved in isolation more than 150
years. Rather than be proud of this
dynamic heritage they have adapted it to the heritage of the Lia Pootah, by
claiming traditional rights they do not have and forcing an ignorant government
into aquision to their needs.
The Palawa claim descent from two ancestors, Manalaganna from Cape Portland and Fanny Cochran Smith, the only known full blood Tasmanian Aboriginal given a government land grant. As captive people anthropologists and historians subjected the Cape Barren Islanders to studies almost continuously since Melville in the 1870s and Tindale in 1931. They are historically recognised as a “hybrid race” with Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage. Some members of this community (the Maynard family) attempted to place a land claim for Victorian land, claiming descent of a Victorian Aboriginal woman. It is historically difficult to understand how they can validate such a dual claim and still claim for Tasmanian land rights.
In 1992 the Liberal Government after
discussions with the Palawa policy makers, headed by Rodney Gibbons, decided to
have the TAC (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre) as the peak body.
While we were a united community this was acceptable.
Today Tasmania has the government sanctioned policy of where only one
Aboriginal Kinship Group speaks for every Kinship Group even though they have no
blood ties. This is done without
consultation with other Aboriginal Groups outside their own blood kin.
Until 1996 the Tasmanian Aboriginal community was united in the struggle
for recognition, and to throw off the label of extinction.
In 1996 Clive Mansell as representative of the TAC produced a paper to be
used for determining Tasmanian Aboriginality where acceptance depended on having
a family tree showing you were descended from a known family from the Bass
Straits. After the forced community
division in 1996, it was found that the 1992 policies had actually been
implemented as the forerunner to have only one TAC controlled organizational
body as the public face for the Aboriginal community.
The 1992 government sanctioned Aboriginal body is the Palawa public
access body of the TAC. The hidden
truth is that the TAC is in reality a government department who is entitled to
the same privileges as another government department, and are listed as such in
the telephone book. Now there is
the added problem of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, a body whose policies
of function were devised by the TAC sanctioned policy maker Rodney Gibbons.
The implementation of the TAC policies can be traced through the
historical employment movements of Rodney as he moves on to the next area that
needs to be changes so that only TAC is the only approved Aboriginal body that
can be accepted.. Today we have the
situation in Tasmania where the Palawa are the watchdog watching the watchdog,
watch the watchdog.
That the TAC face no longer represents
the Aboriginal community is considered an Aboriginal issue, with the TAC the
arbitrator. The modern tragedy is
that by successive governments considering they were doing what was best for the
Tasmanian Aboriginal community unknowingly allowed themselves to be duped by
manipulative policies instigated by the TAC.
The bullying tactics used by the Palawa in the guise of political
correctness became another bane to the historical truth with bureaucrats
frightened of being labeled insensitive and unfeeling to the Aboriginal problem
allowed a dictatorship to develop. Palawa
practices now dominate every issue of Tasmanian Aboriginal policies.
This has resulted in the current situation where Palawa members are the
only representative government advisors, community representatives, policy
makers, ATSIC administrators dominating the ATSIC Regional Council advisors to
Federal Ministers, and the list goes on. By
being given the power to determine Aboriginality they dictate who can apply and
gain employment in an Aboriginal designated position, who can receive Aboriginal
loans, fishing tags, legal and health services, or access Aboriginal land.
It is a situation where practices over rule policies.
The Palawa dictate what educational material can go into schools and
libraries, or what can be sold in shops and government information centres. Aboriginal Tasmania has become a government sanctioned
dictatorship where the Palawa control 99% of all Aboriginal funds coming into
Tasmania for the 16,000 plus Tasmanian Aboriginals. Documentation shows Palawa only servicing less than 500 of a
population that does not exceed 2,000.
Possibly the greatest miscarriage of justice for all of Australia, not
just Tasmania, is that the Palawa have been given cart blanc by the Tasmanian
Government in the rewriting of Tasmanian Aboriginal history.
This is a Palawa history based on flawed academic theories grounded in
the history of the Bass Strait Islands, while denying public access to any other
history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal other than what they sanction.
Tasmania and the world is having an historical lie foisted on them, made
up in the memories and stories of an isolated grass roots people with a definite
mixed cultural heritage and no knowledge concerning the Trowerner based
Tasmanian Aboriginal history they are supposedly sanctioning.
Through historical ignorance they are allowing the academic theories of
nonAboriginals to determine the basis of modern Tasmanian Aboriginal history
which is rapidly becoming the history of our future.
The Palawa are determining place names, historical events, controlling
land they have no blood right to. The
Palawa claim Manalaganna is from the Cape Portland people of the far south east.
Why then can they control land the heritage of the Teen Toomle Menennye
(Big River People) as at Risdon Cove. None
of their ancestors ever set foot in the area, and their ancestors were not those
massacred in 1804. Why are they
given control of the heritage sites which, again they have no blood claim to. Government sanctions determining that the Palawa have these
rights does not appease the ancestors of today’s Aboriginal people.
Today the Palawa are claiming a continuous cultural history going back
to their ‘tribal’ ancestors that is at odds with even their own recorded
oral and. documented history. Their
oral history is well known and documented by academic and the media prior to
1996 it is the opposite to what they are foisting on the ignorant today.
They are allowed to do this, it is their history.
They are not allowed to write anyone else’s history.
By controlling the educational process and having the right to remove any
material they do not consider appropriate they are forcing a censorship on the
broader community that has parallels with the Nazi book burning under Adolph
However while they are entitled to portray their history in any light
they see fit, they are should not allowed to determine the exclusion of a
history and culture because it is not their own. To the detriment of both the broader Aboriginal community and
reconciliation they have policies ensuring that the guilt of the past flows down
through generations so socially removed that it is a farce.
By claiming, and being given, by the government, land and heritage they
have no cultural links or blood Kinship ties to, they are denying others the
right to their heritage. The Palawa
through their political arm the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) have carte
blanche control over every event held in Tasmania.
Without the approval of the TAC no Bicentenary events for 1803 or 1804
can be held. They claim that it is
inappropriate to hold an event which resulted in the first recorded massacre of
Tasmanian Aboriginal people in 1804. They
have sole say on which events can be undertaken and which groups are entitled
for funding. A dictatorship
sanctioned to run amuck along the lines of so many third world countries of
The stranglehold held over the Tasmanian government and broader
community is wielded by government sanction and political correctness to control
every aspect of Tasmania’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history using an
enforced guilt policy that is destroying all attempts of reconciliation.
While the Palawa can determine who is Tasmanian Aboriginal and who is
not the perpetual lie of history will continue unstopped.
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