Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner

so it's been about 6 years. it's great that we have that sort of relationship where we might not see each other for 6 years and then just carry on like we'd never lost touch...

i bought a box again this week. it really has been that long. it's great to have a supply of fruit and veg in the house that forces proper thought about food rather than reactionary/impulse purchases. i'm looking forward to getting back into it.

i'm not really here to talk about that though. you see, after a lifetime at the LRO i moved to another one that is less large. it's also located in the CBD - really about 500m from where my old office was.

a couple of months ago a new installation/momument was opened pretty much outside my office window. it looks a bit like a playground swing set with some coloured metallic boxes behind it. it's prominent and interesting. i went to have a look. i've been a little haunted since.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first people executed by hanging, publicly, in Melbourne. These two Tasmanian indigenous men were brought over to Melbourne with three women (Truganini, Pyterruner and Planobeena) to help 'civilise' the local population by the Protectorate of Aborigines. things didn't go to plan. depending on the account, these people were bloodthirsty outlaws, or, responding to years of abuse and maybe genocide and so waged a campaign against European settlement.

the details aren't mine to tell - you can do the googling yourself. people died on both sides and there was a court case. Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were sentenced to death despite the best efforts of lawyers representing them and substantive concerns about the jurisdiction - if aboriginals weren't people under the constitution then did british law apply to them? in any case they were publicly hanged on 20 Jan 1842 on a spot very near the memorial. reports in the newspapers suggested that about a quarter of melbourne's population turned out in their finest to watch.

the most recent commercial to make us eat lamb is challenging. it starts with some indigenous people on a beach talking about barbecues and inviting people over. the french arrive, then the british and germans and then everyone else including boat people and float people. i like it but it's a complete fabrication (it's a commercial so it's allowed to be) and, if it was my family who had been slaughtered by what can only be described as an invading force i'd be angry and saddened in equal measure. europeans weren't invited, we didn't offer cheese or beer. we invaded. there's just not another word for it.

it was war. there were atrocities that demonstrate the worst of human behaviour. why should we all celebrate the day that the war started? it's grotesque. it lacks any empathy. it's hard to conceive of a more insensitive way to try and celebrate what is great about this place.

i didn't do it, and as best i know none of my family were here at the time. i'm sorry that it happened. i'm disturbed that i didn't know anything about it until a couple of months ago. i've read more about this period in our history from a range of sources. i'm not stupid enough to call it research, but it's opened my eyes. i want you to do the same. i don't care if you don't end up in the same place i have, but if you have an opinion make sure it's an educated one. the 'someone else's shoes' trick is helpful here. suspend disbelief while i tell you a story... 3.47pm on Thursday 12 January, the Andromedans arrived at Princes Pier - it's where ships dock so it seems like to right place. they are clearly from an advanced civilisation (what with their jetpacks and stuff). initially it seems like there here just to have a look around, but over time there are indications that this is not the case. 

by april, 60% of the people you know have disappeared - either murdered on the street or moved to a camp (or settlement or station). another 30% have developed andromedan flu and won't make it. for some reason, you're still here. you're forced to work on the machinery that allows the andromedans to harvest whatever it is they came for. you're one of the 10% of the population that they need. 

"We're all Andromedan, stop complaining!" that's what they tell you on 12 January 2027. they've been  here for 10 years, and continue to celebrate the day they arrived. It's not something you can do. you're not Andromedan and nothing will ever make you think or feel that way. being asked to keep quiet or forget about it is a complete denial of who you are and where you are from...

there's a ceremony at the memorial to tunnerminnerwait and maulboyheenner at 12noon on 20 January. i'll cross the road and stand with them.

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