BY RUNOKO RASHIDI*
DEDICATED TO TRUGANINI
To many, the mention of Tasmania evokes humorous recollections of the Tasmanian devil–the voracious marsupial popularized in American cartoons. But, I assure you, there is a much more harsh reality for Tasmania. Tasmania is an island slightly larger in size than West Virginia, and is located two-hundred miles off Australia’s southeast coast. The aboriginal inhabitants of the island were Black People who probably went there by crossing an ancient land bridge that connected Tasmania to the continent of Australia.
The first people of Tasmania, known as Palawa, were marked by tightly curled hair, with skin complexions ranging from black to reddish-brown. They had broad noses, wide mouths, and deep-set brown eyes. They were relatively short in stature with little body fat. They were the indigenous people of Tasmania and their arrival there began at least 35,000 years ago. With the passage of time, the gradual rising of the sea level submerged the Australian-Tasmanian land bridge and the Black aborigines of Tasmania experienced more than 10,000 years of solitude and physical isolation from the rest of the world.