Lia Pootah - Media Releases
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
7 AUGUST 2003

We would like to thank the Mercury for not giving us the opportunity to respond to the allegations printed in the Mercury 7 August 2003 before they went to press. There is nothing like a biased one sided attack on people to inform the general public with factual happenings.

It is rewarding when the Tasmania’s leading newspaper can constantly report information that is discredited within the laws of the land. When they can publish defamatory and libelous articles with apparent impunity. Lia Pootah was unaware that the Mercury was able to fictionalize the news, portray as fact falsities that are not confirmed within Federal Law. Of course if Lia Pootah were able to access legal funding to go through the courts yet again, to once and for all to bring the accusations concerning their Aboriginality to a halt, then the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Bacon Government and the TAC would stop their accusations instantly.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Community is not the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Lord Mayors Aboriginal Committee do not represent the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. Nor does Micheal Mansell represent or speak for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. They represent the the TAC/Palawa only. Once again the Mercury is aiding and abetting the falsification of Tasmania’s Aboriginal history by it’s biased, one-sided misleading reporting.

How quickly fact can become fiction when the Mercury reports on Palawa events. We have Rodney Dillon ranting about his cultural rights to collect Abalone. For any form of cultural fishing right Rodney would have to be a woman, and some how I do not think that is his gender. Cultural tradition was women being the fishers for the community. Never did men fish for Abalone, crayfish, crab, oysters, mussels or any other traditional fish. Rodney has no rights cultural or otherwise to set up a tradition that never existed. The Mercury again shows the ignorance of Michael Mansell on Aboriginal cultural affairs when he backs Rodney Dillon’s right to fish for Abalone.

Then there is Arthur Hamiliton’s stance. How quickly we forget when we are accepted by the TAC as being Aboriginal.. Arthur was not always recognised and even faced humiliation for the loss and accusations of the TAC denial of his Aboriginality.

To: mercury
Subject: Preamble debate
10 June 2003

The black armband history for Tasmania demanded by so many historians and the TAC completely overshadows the real history in Tasmania between the new arrivals and the original people. Yes Tasmania was invaded, an already occupied land cannot be settled. Yes atrocities were perpetrated against a large percentage of our Aboriginal Ancestors, and if you are a Bass Strait Islander then yes your history is founded in abduction, abuse and murder. This is not the case for all Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Yes Ancestors of some members of the Lia Pootah Community are part of this "black armband history" many are not. Not every Aboriginal community was attacked, the people murdered. Some communities interacted with the new arrivals as they did at Bothwell and Sorell. Some of the later Europeans who arrived were exceedingly hostile but this only affected the narrow strip of alienated land not the whole of Tasmania.

There are two very different documented histories of survival for the Tasmanian Aboriginal, why harp on only one. Documentation for the early history also shows that interaction between the two races, in many instances, was peaceful and friendly. Ancestors from South Arm area were taken to Hobart via Bellerive by ferry, both black and white passengers had a good time. Men like John Shinall (Shiner) lived and worked within the broader community maintaining peaceful relations with those who stole his Ancestral land.

Tim Flanagann fans the academic debate slamming Windshuttle, praising Reynolds and all the time the real Tasmanian Aboriginal history is marginalised by white academics scoring points from each other. On the other side of the coin we have the TAC pushing a barrow of its own agenda which fabricates the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal to the extent that bureaucracy has been given guidelines to follow on Aboriginality that make a mockery of the documented evidence. When will people remember that Michael Mansell's degree is in law not history and his one sided distorted view on history has become rhetoric. Michael Mansell does not speak for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. He speaks for the TAC and even then he does not speak for all those he claims to represent. The TAC only represents a small select few who claim descent from a single man. Their claims of descent do not even represent the Tasmanian Aboriginal people who are recorded in history let alone those who died anonymous.

Black armband history is a modern discourse to alleviate guilt of past actions. Yes many of our grandfathers committed unspeakable horrors, many did not. Many of those men and women who arrived as convicts were treated just as cruelly and inhumanely as the Aboriginal. More than a hundred years later can we still blame the invaders for atrocities committed when in that time and space it was the done thing. Nineteenth century England is noted for its cruelty and inhumane treatment of its own people, why should their treatment of our Ancestors be any different, they were considered even lower on the evolutionary scale.

History can never be viewed by standards of today as many historians seem to do. History can only be viewed with dispatch and hope it will never be repeated.
Kaye McPherson
Lia Pootah Spokesperson

11 February 2003

A delegation from the Lia Pootah Community met with senior politicians and senior ATSIC officials recently in Canberra after a request from the Minister for Aboriginal and Torris Strait Islander Affairs Mr Philip Ruddock to meet with him concerning Aboriginal issues in Tasmania. The delegation took advantage of the opportunity to inform people of the plight of the Lia Pootah people and to offer recommendations for solutions to the current problems. The delegations meetings with senior members of both political parties including the Senior Advisors to the Leader of the Opposition Simon Creen, were fruitful and informative. The main submission for the delegation was the need for Tasmania to be brought into line with the rest of Australia on the definition of Aboriginality. Demands were made that all states and territories use the same Federal definition and that no single group or community be allowed to determine Aboriginality for people not of their community. At each meeting the delegation discussed ways of changing the practices in Tasmania which make a mockery of the current policies on Aboriginal issues.

Lia Pootah Elder, historical geographer and spokesperson, Kaye McPherson handed out a package of historical documents detailing the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people at each meeting. The package contained documentation of the historical discrimination instigated by the Palawa/TAC and how this discrimination appeared to be condoned by the Bacon Government through bureaucratic policies devised by the Palawa controlled Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The delegation was informed that it was an inappropriate for any government to force an Aboriginal community to conform to one line of descent, when this was contradicted by historical evidence. The delegation confirmed their belief in the sovereign right for Aboriginal communities to determine who is Aboriginal in their community, but requested that in Tasmania the historical truth of different lines of descent be officially recognised.

During the meeting with Mr Philip Ruddock the delegation were assured that he was fully aware of what was occurring in Tasmania. While acknowledging it was “not his style to become involved with state disputes”, Mr Ruddock offered advice on all issues.

Meetings with senior ATSIC officials were just as informative. The problems of Tasmania and the inappropriate interference of a government into Aboriginal affairs were discussed in detail. The problems concerning the difficulties of obtaining information from ATSIC Tasmania due to the entrenched employees having a biased alliance were another topic of discussion. The make-up of the Regional council and the undemocratic balance of representatives was also discussed in detail. Assistance was requested for strategies to enable the Lia Pootah to overcome problems of discrimination occurring against their people. Two members of the delegation met with representatives of the Tent Embassy for grass roots discussions on the problems facing Tasmania’s Lia Pootah people.

Photograph taken at Philip Ruddocks office in Canberra 11 February 2003.

From left Vicki Priest – Tereetee Lore/Kaye McPherson – Philip Ruddock – Arthur Priest.

19 February 2003

Land is fundamental to Aboriginal spirituality, land is what defines every Aboriginal dreaming. Aboriginal people are tied body and soul to the land of their birth nurturing their spirit.

Jim Bacon claims understanding of this most basic need and responds “the Labour Government is committed to land hand back”. True the Bacon Government has given considerable land back to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, the problem is that the Palawa group are given control of land for which they have no Dreaming ties.

To be Tasmanian Aboriginal in Tasmania the TAC (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre) and it’s politically sanctioned government departments, demand that they must be Palawa. Descent from the Bass Strait Islands and Manalaganna, whose ancestral place was Cape Portland on Tasmania’s north east coast, or Fanny Cochran Smith who is Aboriginal by an Act of Parliament.

Jim Bacon ignores that the Lia Pootah people have blood Kinship ties to all areas of Trowerna (Tasmania) and have maintained continuous unbroken ties to their Dreaming Roads and Spirit Places in the land of their ancestors. The Lia Pootah are given no land. Perhaps because Mr Bacon is from the mainland he can be forgiven his ignorance on Tasmania’s history and this could excuse his gullibility to the pressures of the Palawa camp. The land given back to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people is for the Tasmanian Aboriginal people not just the Palawa.

An important year 2003 is the base of the 1803 arrival of the European. Perhaps ignorance or bullying or both can be used as an excuse why only Palawa are on the Bicentenary Committee dictating appropriateness of events they can claim no part in. How can you as a Premier condone such racist discrimination Mr Bacon. Turning a blind eye as the Bicentenary Committee sends out statements implying or threatening, to the Clarence Council that if they support Lia Pootah Bicentenary Reconciliation events program they will not support other projects is condoning blatant discrimination.

Historical ignorance cannot forgive Jim Bacon’s interference in allowing the Palawa to control his every move on Aboriginal issues. Jim Bacon’s historical ignorance was proved when he handed management control to the TAC for Risdon Cove in 1999. No consultation process occurred with any community group, Black or white, prior to the change in control of Tasmania’s most historical site. The change over was only made public through an obscure web page that can only be found by accident.

Risdon Cove is the only place in Australia surviving as open land and basically unchanged, where the invading point of contact by the Europeans on Aboriginal Land occurred. As such it is a place that should represent both histories Black and white, past and present. Instead it is a political football where the Palawa have been allowed to inflict their own brand of politics and guilt under approval of government.

Risdon Cove as been sanctioned and funded by Mr Bacon for the Palawa to hold “events” for the Bicentenary of the arrival of Lt. Bowen in 2003 and the arrival of Gov. Collins and the Aboriginal massacre in 2004. How dare the Bacon Government allow the Palawa to make such a mockery of the Lia Pootah ancestor’s history. How dare Mr Bacon condone the blatant Palawa lie and historical inaccuracies of Risdon Cove and fob them on the public as fact. Who gives the Bacon government the right to make a mockery of Aboriginal Sovereignty?

The Palawa do not have nor had kinship ties to the area. They do not have nor had any Dreaming ties in the area. They lost no ancestors or blood kin in the massacre in May 1804. Yet they are being supported by the Bacon Government to desecrate and abuse the memory of both the Lia Pootah and the invading Europeans, the majority of who were in chains and were forced to come to Trowerna.

It is the Lia Pootah and non-Aboriginal people whose history is irreversibly tied to the place called Risdon Cove. It was Lia Pootah Ancestors who were at Risdon Cove when the Lady Nelson arrived, and it was the Lia Pootah ancestors who were massacred at Risdon Cove in 1804. The Lia Pootah people’s Dreaming is tied in blood to Risdon Cove. The spirits of Lia Pootah ancestors are strong in the area of their death

The Lia Pootah Community is interacting with the broader community in September 2003 as a mark of recognition of two races, Black and white. Instead of holding reconciliation events in another part of the Risdon Cove area the Lia Pootah Community should be given control of their ancestral land of Risdon Cove to mark the beginning of Tasmania’s modern history.

If Jim Bacon is so committed to Tasmanian Aboriginal land hand back why does he not mark the Bicentenary 2003/2004 by giving Risdon Cove back to the descendants of the original owners the Lia Pootah. This would be the true mark of reconciliation and a fitting event for the Bicentenary of 2003.

When the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mr Philip Ruddock, told the Lia Pootah Delegation last week, that Mr Bacon had inadvisably aligned himself too closely with one group and he was therefore unable to make a rational decision explains a lot. This is a statement which explains why the Palawa dictate on the Bacon Government land hand back on land that is not Palawa nor the TAC’s and never was.

2 December 2002

In Tasmania the white historians have a lot to answer for, without them we would have an accurate historical representation of our history and culture. For the whole of Aboriginal Australia white histroians have a lot to answer for. Everyone in the world knows that we all do dot paintings and play the didgeredoo. Our diverse culture and history has become an homogenous easily understood facet of Aboriginal Australians. Rarely are we allowed to take control of our lives and history where the truth is told for all to hear. In Tasmania we have academics who made their careers on the backs of our Ancestors and decades later “stand by their historical account” irrespective of it’s modern validity.

In Tasmania we have Cassandra Pybus who gives interviews and “stands by her historical accounts of the Tasmanian Aboriginal” and Lyndall Ryan who under oath “well I wrote it so”. History to many is a stagnant thing. Something gone forever. Something which happened in the past and is now unalterable. History is far more, it is a continuous discover of our past where we can correct the wrong of the white historian and allow the voice of our Ancestors to speak in the present. As an historical geographer I have learnt that history is an apparently never-ending continuous stream of knowledge that awaits to be told.

Thirty years ago when Rhys Jones, Lyndal Ryan and Cassandra Pybus wrote our history it was just emerging that our “extinction was a lie” that descendants had survived on the Bass Strait island of Cape Barron. An easily accessible people who tied into the writing’s of Brian Plomley’s Friendly Mission and Weep in Silience. Since then any writings have only expounded on the one group. Odd historical references have been either alluded to or completely ignored by nonAboriginal writers. Lyndal Ryan acknowledge the people of the Huon in her 1970s edition, but in court she dismissed it as not relevant. Cassandra Pybus jokes about a lost tribe. Both women made their academic careers on the history of my people. That they only told a partial history is an embarrassment they now wish to hide.

Enter the truth.

My history has never been that of the Bass Strait Islanders. Until 1996 our diverse history was, so we thought, accepted as we worked as a united community to set up the infra-structure for today’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. Little did we know of the hidden agenda of the Palawas. At a personal level in 1992 I began university “so I could get qualifications to tell the history of my Ancestors”. A decade later weeks from completing my MSc in Historical Geography I am beging to wonder why I have spent the last decade at school.

I take umbrage at the comment of page 11 when describing the Lia Pootah Community, “Who say they are descended from the mainland of Tasmania”. We have always known our history. We have never claimed descent from women who were captured by sealers and removed to form an island community. We are descended from women who became partners of white men who were loggers, convicts, shepherds, soldiers, bushrangers and the list goes on. Because the whole of Tasmania’s Aboriginal history has been told by whites blinded by their own pursuits of academic credibility, who only wrote the one story, does not make it the tru history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Until 1996 as a united community we were encouraged by the “Tasmanian Aboriginal” community to become educated so we could get it strait and get our voices heard. For eight years we have been fighting for recognition of who we are. It is impossible to get media attention, educational input, or a voice when there is an infrastructure set up by whites on the policies of blacks with hidden agendas.

In the whole of Australia we the Lia Pootah in Tasmania can not be the only lost Aboriginal voice which is silenced by the raucous cries of those who, in times gone by, were once our Kin. Our history is documented but we cannot get it into the schools as the Palawas control the educational system in this state. We cannot get it into bookshops as the shop owners are bullied into not stocking our books. In Tasmania the ASSPA committees are controlled by the Palawa controlled education system. Faxes are sent to every school telling them not to buy or use our services.

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