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New Map Details Aboriginal Massacres in Australia

  • Phil Mercer

FILE - An aboriginal elder performs a ceremony during an official function at Sydney Harbor, Australia, Nov. 27, 2013. A new map documents massacres of aboriginees following the arrival in Australia of British colonists in the late 18th century.

Researchers in Australia have created what they say is the most detailed map ever to record the massacres of Indigenous Australians by European settlers. The document, published by the University of Newcastle, took four years to produce, and followed exhaustive scrutiny of court records, newspaper articles and settlers’ diaries.

The map, which is available online, documents more than 150 locations of massacres of Australia’s original inhabitants following the arrival of British colonists in 1788.

The research includes information about the number of people killed at each site, the type of weapons used, and who was responsible.

The deaths were part of the ‘Frontier Wars’ between Indigenous Australians and European settlers that lasted for many decades and claimed thousands of lives.

Historian Lyndall Ryan, a professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia’s New South Wales state, hopes the work will lead to the sites being recognized with official memorials or monuments.

“This could be the beginning. Now that we know where the sites are certainly up the east coast of New South Wales, or a little bit inland, I think it would be possible, for example, along the Murray River to have some identified sites [saying] this is a battle site. However, we still have not reached the point where we will stop desecrating these sites. We have got a long way to go to accept the Frontier War,” he said.

Ryan said the map is a preliminary study, and researchers hope to add more sites from other parts of Australia over time.

The study defines a massacre as the indiscriminate killing of six or more unarmed or undefended people.

Many Indigenous Australians believe that Australia was ‘invaded’ by the British, who arrived in the late 18th century to establish a penal colony.

Aboriginal campaigners argue that colonization has robbed them not only of their land, but is also responsible for social marginalization, and current high rates of poverty and ill-health.

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