Tasmanians - History and Cultural Relations

The Tasmanian peninsula of Australia has been occupied for some 23,000 years. Since the islands separated from the mainland some 7,000 or so years ago, there is little evidence of contact between mainland peoples and the Tasmanians. In fact, it is likely that the Tasmanians were largely isolated until contact with the Dutch in 1642, the French in 1772, and settlement by the English in 1803. The English regarded the Tasmanians as subhuman and hunted them down; the Tasmanians responded by both fighting back and retreating farther and farther inland. In 1835, after repeated attempts by the English to round them up, the 203 surviving Tasmanians were gathered together and resettled on Flinders Island in Bass Strait. Although treated more kindly, their numbers continued to decrease and in 1847 the 40 survivors were again resettled, this time on a reserve near Hobart. The last "full-blood" Tasmanian died there in 1876. While the native languages and culture have disappeared, there are still some few dozen individuals who claim biological links to the indigenous population.

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