The scope of my research into Tasmanian aboriginal history

My last post generated lots of interest so this post should clarify my intentions.

Principally, I plan to gather information about the aboriginals who frequented the area along the Derwent River, from the mouth to the source of the River. My research aims to collect and collate reliable and authentic information about the life of the indigenous communities prior to European settlement in Van Diemen’s Land/Tasmania.  In so doing, I hope to be able to understand the value of the River to early indigenous peoples, as well as the way the topography influenced their lives.

This study will not consider –

  • interactions with new settlers, convicts or any other non-indigenous person
  • the effect of European settlement on the lives and practices of the indigenous community
  • the history of mainland indigenous peoples

I suspect I may be challenged to present a ‘before and after 1803’ scenario of the situation for aboriginals.  Others have researched and written on this aspect generally although not specifically focused on the Derwent River, and I am seeking a fresh perspective which is not encumbered by conflict with European settlers in early Van Diemen’s Land.

The periods of history about which I want to collect information, are –

  1. before European settlement
  2. at the moment of European settlement in 1803
  3. some years after 1803 to later in the 19th century – this is deliberately loose to allow for non-indigenous people many decades later who have a first-hand experience, to contribute any information they have about any authentic aboriginal practices – but I will only be looking for those indigenous practices which do not seem to have been altered as a result of European settlement.

This quest will occur intermittently because it will compete with the priorities of my other projects and commitments.

8 thoughts on “The scope of my research into Tasmanian aboriginal history

    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      I hope not too many winters because I might get bored if it lasts too long. But it is a worthwhile project. I am fired up and angry. Angry that I was misled as a child. Angry that this has been the case for the majority of Tasmania’s current population. So there I will be, walking along the Derwent River and while the original footprints are gone, I am hopeful spirits might be present to support me on my journey and my quest.

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  1. Alexandra Farrow

    Hi Helen

    When I was at school in Queensland the term “aboriginals” was used to refer to Australian aborigines. Is this still correct? Personally I have since thought this erroneous as firstly aboriginal is an adjective and using this word instead of Aborigines to me seems demeaning. Do you have any thoughts on this? I would be very interested to know. Alex

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      In my school experience our indigenous people were either referred to as aboriginals or aborigines. That ‘aboriginals’ is an adjective never seemed to worry anyone and it continues to be used, I find. But the politically correct term these days seems to be ‘indigenous’. Today I have been alerted to the fact that some Tasmanians do not like to be identified as indigenous and want to be referred as aborigines, and further that those who are happy with the tag indigenous are shunned to some extent by Tasmania’s aboriginals. I am amazed, staggered, and when I heard this I shook my head in disbelief. So I feel there is a minefield here which will snare me at some stage.

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  2. theoldfellowgoesrunning

    So much admiration and respect that you are doing this. So important to recognise these dear people. They have lost so much.
    In Canada, HUGE injustices were made to what were at the time people referred to as “Indians”. The current governments are slowly making amends. The people are now referred to properly as ‘First Nations People’. But you never replace traditions, heritage, and even spoken languages that were lost.

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      The Derwent River is probably the longest river in Tasmania and so it occurs to me there may be some special indigenous heritage that is peculiar to the river. By collecting and collating information in relation to one geographical location, I wonder if I might be able to create a picture of Tasmania’s aborigines which is fresh, and therefore helps non-indigenous people to a new appreciation of the original culture.

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      While you might be located half a world away from Tasmania, some of the issues and practices across my blog may resonate with you. My walk along the Derwent River is incredibly interesting by itself. Now that I plan to attempt to layer early aboriginal history over this walking trek, the story of walking the river should be much enriched.

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