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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 Aboriginal.

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 Hitler

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 today.

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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