'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

12 February 2011


1812- 1876
Truganini is one of the most well known historical figures in Australia. She was a Tasmanian Aborigine. In her lifetime, she saw her people decimated by murder and disease, but refused to be a 'victim'. Her strength and determination persist today within the Palawah people who have lived in the region for over thirty thousand years. In 1803, the first white settlers arrived in Tasmania, where over four thousand Aborigines lived. Fighting began and continued for many years and hundreds of Aborigines and Europeans were killed. Truganini was born, around 1812, in the Bruny Island-D'Entrecasteaux Channel area of Tasmania just south of Hobart. By the time she was seventeen, her mother had been murdered by whalers, her sister abducted and shot by sealers and her husband-to-be murdered by timber fellers and she had been raped. In 1830, authorities appointed George Augustus Robinson, a builder and untrained preacher to mount a 'Friendly Mission' to find the last three hundred remaining Aborigines living deep in the bushland and convince them to move to a nearby island. Posing as a friend, he promised to provide blankets, food and houses, respect their customs and allow them to return to their homelands occasionally. Truganini could see that Robinson's promises were the only way her people could survive. She spent the next five years helping Robinson find the remaining people. Robinson needed the help of Truganini and her friends and she even saved Robinson from spears and drowning. By 1835, nearly all the Aborigines had agreed to move to Flinders Island. He intended to teach them European customs and they in turn believed the island would be their temporary home, but it became a prison and many died. Truganani began to tell people 'not to come in' because she knew they would all die. By 1842, the man, who had promised their race protection, had abandoned them. In 1847, Truganini and the remaining 45 people were moved to an abandoned settlement at Oyster Cove on the Tasmanian mainland where conditions were even worse, but at least it was her traditional land. In her later years she moved to Hobart and became a well-known figure in town. Truganini died in 1876 aged sixty-four, and was buried in the grounds of the female convict gaol in Hobart. Even though her dying wish was to be buried behind the mountains, her body was exhumed and her skeleton displayed at the museum until 1947. Her ashes were finally scattered on the waters of her tribal land, one hundred years after her death. She was considered the last of the Tasmanian Aborigines but some 3000 people claim descent from those early tribal Aborigines.

In Australia it is the custom to not mention the name of or show a photo of the deceased from the Aboriginal community unless permission is granted as it is culturally offensive to some groups. This is generally respected by responsible members of our media.  These are well known photos of Truganini

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