Black Line

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The Black Line was an event that occurred in 1830 in Tasmania, or Van Diemen's Land as it was then known. After many years of conflict between British colonists and the Aborigines known as the Black War, Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur decided to remove all Aborigines from the settled areas in order to end the escalating raids upon settlers' huts. He was also concerned to prevent the settlers from taking the law into their own hands and launching revenge attacks. To accomplish this he called upon every able-bodied male colonist, convict or free, to form a human chain that then swept across the settled districts, moving south and east for several weeks in an attempt to corral the Aborigines on the Tasman Peninsula by closing off Eaglehawk Neck (the isthmus connecting the Tasman peninsula to the rest of the island) where Arthur hoped that they could live and maintain their culture and language. This action was only directed against Aborigines of the Big River and Oyster Bay tribes, since the conflict was only with these two tribes.

The incident was seen as a costly fiasco since only two Aborigines were captured (three were killed). However, it is also now generally accepted that the incident shook the Aboriginal population so much that they were willing to accept the mediation of George Augustus Robinson and allow themselves to be removed to the Flinders Island settlement, where the population dwindled until repatriation to Tasmania in 1847 and the eventual death of the last full blooded Tasmanian, Truganini.

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