People are thought to have crossed into Tasmania approximately 40,000 years ago via a land bridge between the island and the rest of mainland Australia during the last glacial period. According to genetic studies, once the sea levels rose flooding the Bassian Plain, the people were left isolated for approximately 8,000 years until European exploration during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
In 1990 archaeologists excavated materials in the Warreen Cave in the Maxwell River valley of the south-west proving Aboriginal occupation from as early as 34,000 BP making indigenous Tasmanians the southern-most population in the world during the Pleistocene era.
The Aboriginal Tasmanians (Tasmanian: Parlevar or Palawa) were the indigenous people of the Australian state of Tasmania, located south of the continent of Australia. Before British colonisation in 1803, there were an estimated 3,000–15,000 Parlevar. A number of historians point to introduced disease as the major cause of the destruction of the full-blooded Aboriginal population. Geoffrey Blainey wrote that by 1830 in Tasmania: “Disease had killed most of them but warfare and private violence had also been devastating.” Other historians regard the Black War as one of the earliest recorded modern genocides.
Benjamin Madley wrote: “Despite over 170 years of debate over who or what was responsible for this near-extinction, no consensus exists on its origins, process, or whether or not it was genocide” however, using the “U.N. definition, sufficient evidence exists to designate the Tasmanian catastrophe genocide.”
By 1833, George Augustus Robinson, sponsored by Lieutenant Governor George Arthur, had persuaded the approximately 200 surviving Aboriginal Tasmanians to surrender themselves with assurances that they would be protected, provided for and eventually have their lands returned to them. These ‘assurances’ were in fact lies – promises made to the survivors that played on their desperate hopes for reunification with lost family and community members. The assurances were given by Robinson solely to remove the Aboriginal people from mainland Van Diemen’s Land. The survivors were moved to Wybalenna Aboriginal Establishment on Flinders Island, where diseases continued to reduce their numbers even further. In 1847, the last 47 living inhabitants of Wybalenna were transferred to Oyster Cove, south of Hobart. Two individuals, Trugernanner (1812–1876) and Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834–1905), are separately considered to have been the last people solely of Tasmanian descent.
All of the Indigenous Tasmanian languages have been lost. Currently, there are some efforts to reconstruct a language from the available wordlists. Today, some thousands of people living in Tasmania and elsewhere can trace part of their ancestry to the Parlevar, since a number of Parlevar women were abducted, most commonly by the sealers living on smaller islands in Bass Strait; some women were traded or bartered for; and a number voluntarily associated themselves with European sealers and settlers and bore children. Those members of the modern-day descendant community who trace their ancestry to Aboriginal Tasmanians have mostly European ancestry, and did not keep the traditional Parlevar culture.
Other Aboriginal groups within Tasmania use the language words from the area where they are living and/or have lived for many generations uninterrupted. Many aspects of the Aboriginal Tasmanian culture are continually practised in various parts of the state and the islands of the Bass Strait.
Truganini, the last fully native Tasmanian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truganini)
William Lanne, the last fully native Tasmanian man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lanne)
Group of Natives of Tasmania (1859, oil on canvas, 45.6 x 91.4 cm) by Robert Dowling (1827–1886):
Another pic of Truganini:
Truganini, William Lane and another native Tasmanian:
Native Tasmanians in 1858: