Wednesday, March 20, 2013

remembering mumirimina

Today someone called ("unknown") commented on a 2011 post I wrote: "save the mumirimina-kutalayna heritage" along the Jordan River, Tasmania. I find it very moving and would like to share it. We can also "remember them" and acknowledge that their descendants "walk where they once walked" and it is their country.

ya pulingina milaythina mana mapalitu
mumirimina laykara milaythina mulaka tara
raytji mulaka mumirimina
mumirimina mapali krakapaka laykara
krakapaka milaythina nika ta
waranta takara milaythina nara takara
waranta putiya nayri
nara laymi krakapaka waranta tu manta waranta tunapri nara.

Greetings to all of you here on our land
It was here that the Mumirimina people hunted kangaroo all over their lands
It was that the white men hunted the Mumirimina
Many Mumirimina died as they ran
Died here on their lands
We walk where they once walked
And their absence saddens us
But they will never be dead for us as long as we remember them.

This is the eulogy of the Risdon Cove Massacre of 1804 where Tasmanian Aborigines were killed in an encounter with British soldiers. Greg Lehman says, "Regardless of the debate over how many were killed, it certainly constitutes Tasmania’s first massacre. But was it simply a regrettable over-reaction to the accidental appearance of a hunting party? Or was it something much more tragic?" His (2006) article is entitled,  Two Thousand Generations of Place-making.


  1. With all due respect, who on earth told you that 300 Aborigines were massacred at Risdon Cove?There is no evidence whatsoever to back up that figure. No historical evidence and no archaeological evidence. Not to mention that it would have required a small army to shoot that many and please don't tell me the Aborigines stood still for an hour or so and let themselves been slaughtered.

  2. Thanks for this post. This figure is contested- no doubt. I sourced the whole poem and quote from wikipedia, as I recall.... and it needed to be checked - so thanks for pointing this out. I will correct the figure in my original post.

    In a piece by Greg Lehman on Risdon. He says: "There were many deaths – all of them Aboriginal people" . I think, without getting into a tired old argument about specific numbers killed - that Greg's article suggests what might have happened that day

    "To this day, colonial history is filled with naive accounts of early encounters with Aboriginal people. Here in Tasmania we have one of the most problematic. In 1804, at around this time of year, just ahead of the coming winter, a large group of perhaps a hundred or more Aboriginal men, women and children appeared in the hills above Risdon Cove. As they moved down the hill toward the cove, driving a mob of kangaroo ahead of them, the British, who has set up camp in the cove became alarmed and – interpreting the event as a potential attack, moved quickly to position their artillery and infantry for defence. The results were predictable. There were many deaths – all of them Aboriginal people".

  3. Thank you for the reply and considering a rethink about Risdon Cove. Greg Lehman's article is just another interpretation of what happened that day, and after two and a half years of research into Risdon Cove, believe me, there are many different versions.

  4. I am sure that's true...many many versions; "cultures in collision" (Lehman).

    1. Sadly, historians have interpreted Risdon Cove more for political reasons than historic. The story not only changes from historian to historian, but it also grows with each new publication. In simple terms, Risdon Cove has been treated by historians like the old childhood game of "I went to the shop for a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk...", by the time a dozen or more people are finished with the story, it's an account of epic proportions.

  5. In a piece by Greg Lehman on Risdon. He says: "There were numerous passings – every last one of them Aboriginal individuals" . I consider, without getting into a tired old contention about particular numbers killed -that Greg's article infers what may have happened that day small business funding australia .