Leaders call for truth about state’s horrific past
A TASMANIAN Aboriginal leader is calling for change amid the anniversary of a horrific hanging about almost 200 years ago.
Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania chairman Michael Mansell said September marked the anniversary of the hanging of two Aboriginal men.
"When the Black War was on in the 1820s, an Aboriginal group were camped over at Bellerive and they were not part of the war," he said.
"The Governor at the time was under pressure to teach Aboriginal people a lesson, so he ordered the guards to go over and grab the two nearest Aborigines because a shepherd had been killed up near Scamander, Swansea.
"They grabbed a traditional Aboriginal lawman and a younger Aboriginal man and brought them over here to Murray Street in Hobart, put them through a kangaroo court, and hung them."
Mr Mansell said the two men couldn't speak English, had no idea what was happening, and were completely innocent of killing anyone.
Now, he is calling for the government to make the truth about Tasmania's history made public.
"If we don't understand exactly what happened, we run the risk of making similar mistakes in the future," he said.
"What we've seen is that Aboriginal people had their land taken away from them by force, and Aboriginal people 200 years later still have to go down on our knees and beg for bits and pieces of land to be handed back to us.
"We urge the government to start beginning talks about finding out how to speak the truth about history and how to make a land settlement for the Aboriginal people."
In June, Mr Mansell met with Premier Peter Gutwein to discuss a range of issues such as a treaty, land hand backs, and an increase of indigenous representation in state Parliament.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Roger Jaensch said they came into government in 2014 with a commitment to re-set the relationship with Tasmanian Aboriginal communities.
"We are reviewing the model for returning land, with the intent of returning more land to Aboriginal communities, as part of our journey to reconciliation," he said.
"Aboriginal people are now recognised as Tasmania's First People in the Tasmanian Constitution Act, we have updated the Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy and we have strengthened the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
"And, 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."
Mr Jaensch said they had also taken another step toward improving outcomes for Tasmanian Aboriginal people, with the signing of a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, and they were working closely with the state's Aboriginal communities to develop the state's first four-year implementation plan.
Originally published as Leaders call for truth about Tasmania's horrific past