Black War Greymon

Black War

The Black War refers to a period of conflict between the British colonists and Tasmanian Aborigines in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) in the early years of the 19th century. The conflict has gained a notorious reputation as a genocide resulting in the almost complete obliteration of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population, though there are presently many thousands of individuals descended of Tasmanian Aborigines.

The war was never officially declared and this has led to variations in its dating. Some date the conflict to the very beginning of European settlement on the island in 1803. The conflict was most intense during the 1820s, which is the period most commonly referred to as the Black War. The conflict is generally seen to have ended in the 1830s, after the unsuccessful Black Line and the subsequent relocation of Aborigines to Flinders Island.

This conflict is a subject of the Australian history wars, the 2002 publication of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803-1847 by Keith Windschuttle, questioned the historical evidence used to identify the actual number of Aborigines killed stating that it was exaggerated and challenged what is labelled the "Black armband view of history" of Tasmanian colonisation. His argument has been challenged by a number of authors, for example see "Contra Windschuttle" by S.G. Foster in Quadrant, March 2003, 47:3.

Literary references

H. G. Wells, in Chapter One of his novel The War of the Worlds, published in 1898, wrote: "We must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals such as the vanished bison and dodo, but also upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years.

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