THE BLACK WAR OF VAN DIEMEN‘S LAND
The Black War of Van Diemen’s Land was the name of the official campaign of terror directed against the Black people of Tasmania. Between 1803 and 1830 the Black aborigines of Tasmania were reduced from an estimated 5,000 people to less than 75.
With the declaration of martial law in November 1828, whites were authorized to kill Blacks on sight. Although the Blacks offered a heroic resistance, the wooden clubs and sharpened sticks of the Aborigines were no match against the firepower, ruthlessness, and savagery exercised by the Europeans against them. In time, a bounty was declared on Blacks, and “Black catching,” as it was called, soon became a big business; 5 pounds for each adult Aborigine, 2 pounds for each child.
After considering proposals to capture them for sale as slaves, poison or trap them, or hunt them with dogs, the government settled on continued bounties and the use of mounted police.
After the Black War, for political expediency, the status of the Blacks, who were no longer regarded as a physical threat, was reduced to that of a nuisance and a bother, and with loud and pious exclamations that it was for the benefit of the Blacks themselves, the remainder of the Aborigines were rounded up and placed in concentration camps.