Talk:Black War

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Keith Windschuttle[edit]

Perhaps it is neccessary to include a greater mention of his work. The current reference is unacceptable, as Windschuttle not only 'challenged' but disproved many of the previuos claims. Maximus Meridius 04:20, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I intend to read the rebuttal Whitewash, but it will have to be damn good to answer Windschuttle's claimsGeoff82

He should not be listed as an 'historian' by the way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:38, 18 May 2013 (UTC)


Maybe we should trim the Windschuttle links, as they're more about the book rather than the actual article? Jgritz 14:11, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I studied Australian History, my Family arriving on the First Fleet. Keith Windshuttle gives an accurate account of Australian History. The myth and lie makers come from Monash University and specifically students and cohorts of Robert Manne who paid $50,000 for the best concoction concerning the "Bringing them Home Report". There is not even "middle ground" the myths and lies have become so overwhelming it can only be deduced “Monash and Manne” are the Anti-Christ of Australian History and an example is "The Meralite Boat" article now edited. In that article two Aboriginal children in South Australia walked to the NT coast to swap and trade "Hairstring and Thermo plastic (ear wax)” for a Meralite Boat from Islanders, Lake Ayre had filled with water and the Tribe wanted a boat. No wheel, no Cart, no horse, no beasts of burden, two naked children on foot carrying enough Thermoplastic and Hairstring to Trade for a boat, which they carried back. Apparently all the Aboriginals on the NT Coast were “hairless”. No pot to piss in and all by foot. I think Robert Manne originally gave a Medal for that concoction then like Australian history, covered it all up. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Wrong governor?[edit]

poster with heading

I think the caption is wrong on the poster in this article- I think its actually Governor Davey's proclamation to the Aborigines from 1816, not Gov. Arthurs - as seen in this image which shows the top of the posterAstrokey44 10:33, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Good find, Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore implies that it is part of George Arthur's Black War campaign. Can't trust even sources now! -- 08:53, 27 November 2005 (UTC)


Is Geoncide the right word to describe the "Black Wars". Especially because many of the deaths attributed to this period are through disease? Or do you mean to imply that the diseases were in fact biological weapons? ```` —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) . 02:09, May 7, 2006 (UTC)

While it can certainly be argued that it was not genocide, it is also quite clear that many do consider it to be genocide. olderwiser 03:16, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

Please can we have a WP:V reliable and reputable source, for who has claimed it to be a genocide. --Philip Baird Shearer 03:04, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

How about these for starters:
  • Here we have a discussion of historian Keith Windschuttle dismissal of "the conventional thinking on what's been is widely-accepted as one of the darkest moments in Australian history, the genocide of Tasmanian Aborigines".
  • Turnbull, Clive (1948) Black War: The Extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Melbourne and London: F.W. Cheshire.
  • This may or may not be a reliable source, but it discusses the Black War in the context of other genocides.
  • This is almost certainly not a reliable source, but gives some evidence to it being commonplace to consider it as genocide.
  • This seems reputable. Minogue is apparently reluctant to use the label genocide, although the site editors seem to want to push that angle. Part of a multi-part series sparked by Windschuttle's publications.
  • Yet another discussion of Windschuttle supposed debunking of among other things, Tasmanian genocide.
  • "Patterns of frontier genocide 1803–1910: the Aboriginal Tasmanians, the Yuki of California, and the Herero of Namibia" by Benjamin Madley in the Journal of Genocide Research (2004), 6(2), June, 167–192
  • "Modern by analogy: modernity, Shoah and the Tasmanian genocide" by Jesse Shipway in the Journal of Genocide Research (2005), 7(2), June, 205-219
All of these were gathered without even trying very hard. Many, many more comparable sources are available. olderwiser 04:20, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

It is not on the talk page that they are needed, it is in the article. Why not pick a few of the most "reputable" and weave them into the text? I ask this because I am trying to clean up the Genocides in history page and I would like to include sources for all the Genocides mentioned and currently this one does not have any either on the Genocides in history#Australia section or this article to substanciate the claim that it was a genocide. As I am no expert on this episode it is much better if someone who is selects the references to be cited and as the page already reports on the History wars (an article I had not seen until I read this page) it would be helpful if it was a balanced NPOV paragraph.

Also do those respectable sources that state that the Black War it was a genocide, define the genocide in terms of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or do they use a different definition like those described in Genocide#Criticisms of the CPPCG? --Philip Baird Shearer 09:27, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Aha, now you're asking something more difficult--I thought you were following up on the anon's earlier question which was accompanied by an article edit to remove the word genocide. There's no question that it is commonly described as a genocide--that is one of the primary bases for Windschuttle's book. As to whether it actually meets that standard for some specific definition of genocide (or even whether Windschuttle was right in claiming earlier historians exaggerated the genocidal aspects of the conflict)--well that is a different matter altogether and one that I'm not qualified to venture an opinion about. I'm only casually familiar with the topic and not ready to go digging into secondary sources at this time. olderwiser 11:59, 29 May 2006 (UTC)


How can we say there are 'thousands' of decendents when they are of maybe 1/36th aborignality?

The descendants are Aboriginal insofar as they meet the three-part test established under Australian legislation. Sean Parker (talk) 23:29, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

Bad taste[edit]

I believe its extraordinarily naive and bad taste to have a genocidal one sided progrom in a military history project - somebody didnt read the article when they put that on! SatuSuro 23:36, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

This entire article flies in the face of Australian history. It appears to be a concoction of Left Wing hate of their own people. The Diaries of Oxley from 1803 (not mid? 1820s to 1830s wrong dates) are still available on micro fiche. This lie (entire article and "Black War" reference is all Lies. Australia did have a record of events from Day 1 of settlement. We had Journalists and every level of reporting from every level of Public Service from convicts to Police to Senior Public Servants, to Journalists and Newspaper reporters on "both sides" of Politics, all the way to the Monarchy. If someone falsified a report, like this ridiculous document in it entirety, they would be gaoled, whipped with "cat of nine tails", hung or if they were lucky exiled. Take this vile lies and hate down from Wiki — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Why was it called the Black War?[edit]

It may be obvious to those who know Australian history, but there is nothing on the page explaining why it was called the Black War. Were the Aborigines called "Blacks".

The conflict was described by contemporaries as the 'Black War' because it was conflict with he 'Black natives' of Van Diemens Land - in the language of colonial Tasmania. Calling Tasmanian Aboriginal people 'blacks' or 'natives' is derogatory now but the language of the time is still used to describe the conflict. Sean Parker (talk) 23:33, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

Nearly all information is missing[edit]

Nearly all information is missing. Who? By whom? Weapons? What? where? how? when (stated to some extent)? Andries (talk) 20:05, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Intro, wrong word used[edit]

The conflict resulted in the complete obliteration of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population. None of the present day descendants of the handful of Tasmanian Aboriginal survivors are full blooded, and the native culture and language has been irrevocably lost.

I understand the point the lead is attempting to make however the language used doesnt really support it. The war resulted in obliteration, which means that everything was wiped out. However it then states there was a handful of survirors - it would be more accurate to state the near obliteration of the people or the obliteration of their society etc--EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 11:54, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

The reason the lead says complete annihilation is because the survivors were herded into a camp, where they promptly died off. The only real survivors in the strict sense of leaving progeny were slaves and collaborators, who bore half-white children. The last full blooded native Tasmanian died in 1876 (despite some attempts to pin the label on the half-white last speaker of an Aboriginal language).Likebox (talk) 20:19, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Newspaper Obscure[edit]

Just a minor comment about the newspaper quote. It's a little obscure. Are the editors proposing the preservation of the native populace or that they should be extermininated? Both can be concluded depending on the reading of the statement. I suspect given the general slant of Australian/Western history it is a cry for exterminating untermenchen but I could be mistaken. This really should be clarified. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:36, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

At the time of the newspaper article, settlers in the more remote areas had been suffering from frequent raids by Aborigines, often involving the Aborigines approaching settlers in an apparently friendly manner and then suddenly turning on them and killing them. There had been a number of killings of helpless women and children as well as the killing of settlers known to have treated Aborigines particularly well, so there was a certain amount of outrage about it. The newspaper article came at a time when all sorts of proposals were being made as to how to end the hostilities, generally involving separating the 'combatants' by forcing the Aborigines away from the settled areas into some sort of reservation on a peninsula or island. With very few exceptions, published records of opinions in the colony show that most settlers were in favour of action being taken to BOTH preserve the Aborigines AND end the murder of settlers. I'm pretty sure that is what the newspaper was demanding. Webley442 (talk) 08:03, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

I attempted to add a clarification saying just that (i think it was from the 28th aug) but someone deleted it. they claimed it was uncited, whereas it was putting that very citation in the context of the article from which it came User:Geoff82

Cut and paste from article[edit]

The paragraph below was cut and pasted from article to here .. for discussion .. noting that it appears to be more detailed than would expect in the summary beginning to an encyclopedic article .. and seeing the same subject matter (though difference detail) is already covered in the article below: Bruceanthro (talk) 12:32, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

"One well-documented strategy utilised by British settlers to attempt to attack and defeat the Tasmanian Aborigines is known as the Black Line, which involved situating participating troopers and settlers in a line across the island, then moving the line from the northeast to the southwest in an attempt to corner the Aboriginal population in southern Tasmania, a task made difficult by the terrain, the Aborigines' intimate knowledge of it and their skill at concealment. The Black Line was a failure, however, capturing only one old Aboriginal man and a disabled boy, both of whom escaped almost immediately thereafter, and also causing the deaths by shooting of two other Aborigines. The attempt also resulted in the deaths of five troopers accidentally shot by their fellow troopers."Flood, Dr Josephine, The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People, Allen & Unwin, 2006 p86


I've removed the term 'revisionist' which had been used to characterise Plomley in the introductory paragraph. While technically 'revisionist' can refer to a positive act in historical work, eg correcting past mistakes or false interpretations, recently it is generally only used in the sense of 'Historical revisionism (negationism)', ie as in Holocaust revisionists. So it seems inappropriate on that count alone. Aside from which, Plomley was working in the 1960's, publishing Robinson's journals for the first time before the 'it was genocide', 'all those atrocity stories are absolutely true, no question' mentality started to develop (in the late 70's & into the 80's) regarding what happened in Tasmania. He wasn't 'revising' anything.Webley442 (talk) 22:43, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Colonial Times article[edit]

It appears as though the Colonial Times article was misrepresented. The newspaper was NOT calling upon citizens to hunt down and kill aborigines like animals in the name of self defence. If you read the entire article (as I have done) you will see that the Times is merely explaining what is already going on - namely that settlers are killing Aborigines while defending themselves. The Times article then points out that the only real solution is to exile them all to King Island - a precursor to the 1830 decision to send them off to Flinders Island.

Of course I'm reasonably aware of the issues surrounding this piece of history and I can assure people that my editing here is not based upon revisionism but upon fact. Read the Colonial Times article for yourself (the whole first column and the beginning of the second one) and you will see that they were not calling upon the people of Tasmania to kill aborigines. From a political standpoint the article is still reasonably racist but it is more in tune with the idea that Bass Strait exile would be the solution. Sadly this solution didn't end up working either.

--One Salient Oversight (talk) 07:42, 31 December 2011 (UTC) It seems that everyone can be denied these days in the new "Age of Enlightment" we live in. Save ONE major exception- the Jewish Holocaust. The Native American Holocaust? Much worse than the Jewish Holocaust in terms of number of people killed. Yet denying it- or blaming all the deaths on smallpox- is not only permitted but even encouraged. The Tasmanian Holocaust? Much worse than the Jewish Holocaust in terms of proportion of people killed. Yet denying it- or blaming it on smallpox- carries no grave sentence today. In other words- everything can be denied except for the tragedy of those who wield more influence than others. RaduFlorian (talk) 12:35, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree that more context needs to be put around the editorial in 1826. Two settlers had just been murdered and a further five injured. This report of the deaths and injuries also discusses King Island: "THE BLACK NATIVES,". Hobart Town Gazette (Tas. : 1825 - 1827). Tas.: National Library of Australia. 18 November 1826. p. 2. Retrieved 29 August 2013. The discussion had thus been happening in the press over several weeks. (The Hobart Times article is several weeks earlier than the Colonial Times article currently cited.) I don't feel this Wikipedia article quotes its sources effectively. There is bias and it is dealing with original matterial so I feel this is original research, breaching WP:NOR. I think it would be better if this section referenced a reputable history rather than excerpting bits from contemporary newspaper discussions. -- (talk) 05:17, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

just to clarify, the No original research policy makes clear that quoting primary sources requires a reliable secondary source for interpretation
from WP:Nor - Policy: Unless restricted by another policy, primary sources that have been reliably published may be used in Wikipedia; but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them.[4] Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the source but without further, specialized knowledge. For example, an article about a novel may cite passages to describe the plot, but any interpretation needs a secondary source. Do not analyze, synthesize, interpret, or evaluate material found in a primary source yourself; instead, refer to reliable secondary sources that do so. Do not base an entire article on primary sources, and be cautious about basing large passages on them.
-- (talk) 05:24, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Time for an overhaul[edit]

I'm going to embark on an extensive rewrite and expansion of this article, which provides poor coverage for a key part of Tasmanian, and Australian, history.

Working my way from the top:

  • The military conflict template is inappropriate and should simply be removed. Despite the use of "war" in the commonly-used term, the conflict between Tasmanian Aboriginals and European settlers was not a military conflict, despite the involvement of soldiers at different places and times, including the Black Line. As James Boyce notes (Van Diemen's Land, p.205): "Almost all the killing of Aboriginals was done by convicts and former convicts." But nor was it a civil conflict that would warrant the use of the civil conflict or civilian attack templates. Mangerner was not a "commander or leader" over a unified side in the same manner as George Arthur, and since most killings of Aboriginals took place without the knowledge or approval of Arthur, it's ridiculous to suggest Arthur was a "commander" in this "war". He was the governor of the colony in which this conflict was taking place.
  • The article, and lead section, contains no information on causes of the conflict, weapons, tactics, number and identity of the victims, provides no detail on where and when the conflict reached a peak or why it ceased, and also lacks a discussion of historians' difficulty in arriving at definitive statistics on Aboriginal population in 1803 and total Aboriginal casualties.
  • It contains too much detail on the 1804 Risdon Cove massacre and Truganini. Both the Charles Darwin account and HG Wells reference are unnecessary.
  • It lacks coverage of respected historical sources on whether the activities of this period could be described as genocide.
  • The article also makes an arbitrary, and unsourced, assertion that the timespan of the Black War is "best understood" as the period of martial law between 1828 and 1832. The starting point of the "war" has in fact been stated as 1824 (Nicholas Clements, James Boyce, Richard Broome), 1826 (Lyndall Ryan) and 1827 (Henry Reynolds). That range of dates needs to be acknowledged.

I'll start work on this soon but welcome any thoughts. BlackCab (TALK) 04:26, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

I have uploaded the major part of the rewrite and expansion I embarked on; what remains is a section called "Characterisation as genocide". This will encompass comments by Robert Hughes, Nicholas Clements, Richard Broome and Tom Lawson and possibly others. BlackCab (TALK) 12:24, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
An interesting an extensive overhaul on an important part of Tasmanian and Australian history which is largely ignored. Aaroncrick TALK 11:32, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
An edit today by another user to the military conflict template highlighted the fact that I'd neglected to delete that template as discussed earlier. Despite the term "war", this was not a military conflict. I have now deleted that template. BlackCab (TALK) 02:29, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

The conflict template is perfectly appropriate. As various sources make clear, the events this article covers did involve warfare. Your view that conflicts aren't a 'war' unless they involve formed military units isn't very common these days. Most (if not all) Australian military historians regard the various frontier conflicts to have been warfare, with various authors noting that its important to recognise them as such so as to not obscure the fact that Indigenous Australians fought for their land. Nick-D (talk) 03:19, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

Firstly, don't misrepresent my view. I did not say the Black War was not a war. My objection to use of the military conflict infobox template here is twofold: (1) my Oxford dictionary says the military is "relating to or characteristics of soldiers or armed forces .... members of the armed forces, as distinct from civilians and the police." (By contrast it says a "war" is "armed hostilities between especially nations"). With the brief exception of the Black Line and other isolated incidents the military was simply not involved. It was an entirely civilian conflict. (2) As discussed above, the parameters of this template have little relevance to the Black War. The belligerents on one side are listed as "British Empire, Tasmania and United Kingdom" which is nonsense and Governor George Arthur is named as the commander of this force, when he had no such role or intention. Most killings of Aboriginals took place without his knowledge or approval. The other belligerents are named as "Tasmanian Aboriginal Peoples" with that capitalisation. The article accurately describes the conflict between indigenous inhabitants and aggressive, acquisitive settlers; it does not need an inappropriate military template forced on it for the sake of it. BlackCab (TALK) 04:27, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
I certainly take your point on the infobox's current content, but that doesn't rule out using it - see for instance how it's used at the Australian frontier wars article, which is probably a good model here. I think that it's a better choice than Template:Infobox civil conflict as this wasn't a 'civil' conflict as appears to be hard-coded into the infobox given that it involved the expansion of British control into Indigenous Australians land. Nick-D (talk) 04:36, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
I've just revised the infobox to take the above into account - what do you think? Nick-D (talk) 04:40, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
I don't have the time to compare it with what is on the other frontier wars articles (I'm wikkying while I work) but that seems to work well. Thanks. BlackCab (TALK) 05:15, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

I am proposing the Black Line article be merged into this article, and a redirect placed at that article. The coverage in the Black War article is probably sufficient, and the Black Line article provides no more detail or information than exists here—certainly not enough to warrant a spinoff article at this stage. BlackCab (TALK) 08:41, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Hi BlackCab. Yes, I agree; it's really just a duplication. Aaroncrick TALK 11:31, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree too and I have redirected. I didn't see any worthwhile content in that article that could be moved here; obviously if there is then it can be moved here. --John (talk) 17:23, 10 June 2016 (UTC)

Genocide category[edit]

Monochrome Monitor has included this article on what is evidently a project (and a worthwhile one) to review the suitability of articles included in the Genocides category. I'm sure there are many in that category that arguably shouldn't be, but I'd contend that Black War should remain. The lead section of the article notes that the issue is a subject of debate among historians, but as the Characterisation as genocide section of the article points out, there are some quite reputable historians among those who believe the Black War was indeed an act of genocide. Among those was Raphael Lemkin, the author of the concept of genocide. Lemkin considered Tasmania the site of one of the world's clear cases of genocide. I will reinstate the category but invite comment. BlackCab (TALK) 01:25, 20 March 2016 (UTC)

Hmmmmm. I definitely see your and lemkin's (whom I greatly respect) point. My concern personally is that it was so limited geographically. Compared to the number of aboriginal australians, I mean, this was very specific to tasmania rather than the mainland. But I suppose it's me always erring towards the "in whole" rather than "in part", a la the armenian genocide and the holocaust rather than the bosnian genocide. This was arguably a utilitarian genocide though. I guess I'm biased against those, too. Utilitarian genocides (on any scale) have been perpetrated by virtually every empire in human history. Ideological genocides however are a more modern phenomenon. --Monochrome_Monitor 02:52, 20 March 2016 (UTC)

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Context of wider colonial campaigns of genocide[edit]

Despite the claim that this is "the only true genocide in English colonial history" included in this article, this is demonstrably false. British genocide in the Americas is well known, such as the Beothuk of what is today Newfoundland who were hunted down until there was one survivor, who was put on display as a sort of curiosity. Or the famous Pilgrims of what become New England who butchered the Mystic Indians down to the last and erased (almost) all memory of them, leading most Bostonians to think the "Mystic River" is named in honour of religious conviction. There are examples of this across the British Empire, not to mention the actions of British settler states like the United States. The Black War has to be contextualized clearly as part of a global trend in African and New World settler colonialism.

I mean, guys, even Darwin talks about this. It's old hash. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:57, 8 September 2017 (UTC)