Going all in on the Genocide

I have finished reading the Van Diemen’s Land book* now.

I understand and agree with emphasis placed on the dispossession and nearly successful genocide being unlawful and that it was achieved by Lt Gov Arthur’s fraud. The fraud went in two directions, to his superiors the British Colonial office and, through his agent, the despicable, opportunist, hypocrite, James Augustus Robinson, to the Aborigines.

My understanding of the crime perpetrated on the Aborigines of Van Diemen’s land was best communicated to me on a visceral level in the excerpt from Aboriginal Society in North West Tasmania: Dispossession and Genocide by Ian McFarlane B.A. (Hons).

Collage of two drawings of the Nut and Highfield (the home built by Edward Curr). The latter was drawn by J Curr, the former unknown.

 “The Tamar set sail for Flinders Island on the 1 October 1835. For Pevay and most of the Friendly Mission Aborigines on board, this was the last time they would set foot on their homeland. Pevay’s brother Penderoin died while they were in Hobart leaving eight adult Aborigines to make the journey. Mannalargenna seemed acutely aware of the significance of this voyage, no doubt realising that Robinson’s earlier assurances that he would be allowed to remain in his traditional lands were now worthless. On the 8th October as the vessel passed Swan Island, Robinson’s journal described Mannalargenna’s grief and pain as he bade farewell to his country …

When we were off Swan Island Mannalargenna the chief gave evident signs of strong emotion. Here opposite to this island was his country; Swan Island was the place I brought him to when I removed him from his country. He paced the deck, looked on all the surrounding objects, fresh recollections came to his mind. He paced to and fro like a man of consequence, like an emperor. Round his head he had tied a slip of kangaroo skin, which added greatly to his imperial dignity. At one time he took the map in his hand and looked on it intently, took the spyglass and looked through it. It was amusing enough to see him. He allowed that I was equally great with himself, that I had travelled in all directions” – James Augustus Robinson

It showed that Robinson had a clear understanding of the harm he was inflicting on the Aborigines. It also shows the depth of his scorn for the people whom he pretended to befriend and protect but most of all, it communicated to me better than anything I have ever heard or read, Mannalargenna’s and the Aboriginal peoples connection with the land which was stolen from them.

So far as the responsibility of our forebear, Edward Curr, is concerned; he was one of the landholders whose pressure on Arthur (as well as Arthur’s allegiance to his class) persuaded him to go all in on the genocide.

John Curr
23 Aug 2021

* Van Diemen’s Land by James Boyce, Black Inc 2018 Edition.

Aboriginal Society in North West Tasmania: Dispossession and Genocide by Ian McFarlane B.A. (Hons)

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