Open Access Repository

Some notes on the tribal divisions of the aborigines of Tasmania


Downloads per month over past year

Walker, James Backhouse (1897) Some notes on the tribal divisions of the aborigines of Tasmania. Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. pp. 176-187.

walker-notes-tr...pdf | Download (878kB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


The estimates of the aboriginal population of Tasmania
before the advent of Europeans vary very
considerably. G. A. Robinson always maintained that,
in 1804, the number of the aborigines was from 6000 to
8000. Captain Kelly, in his evidence before Colonel
Arthur's Committee in 1830, estimated the native population
at 5000 ; but he supposed that the number was
still very great in the unsettled parts of the colony,
which we now know was not the case. On the other
hand, Backhouse put the number as low as 700 to 1000.
To sum up the result of our enquiry, we
find, ( 1 ) That the aboriginal population probably did not
exceed 2000 : (2) that there were four main groups of
tribes ; viz.

(a) South ; (b) West and North-West
(c) Central and East ; (d) North and North-East :
(3) that these groups were divided by strongly marked
differences of language : (4) that the Southern and
Western tribes were completely isolated from those on
the eastern side of the island, and that a similar separation
existed between the North and North-Eastern tribes
on the one hand, and those of the Centre and East on
the other : (5) that within the groups each tribe and
sub-tribe probably occupied a definite district which was
recognised as its special territory : (6) that the tribes
within each group, though generally leagued together,
were at times at feud with each other : (7) that in later
years, after the European occupation, the tribes—especially
those of the east and centre of the island—laid
aside their differences, and made common cause against
the white intruders.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 176-187
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2013 05:25
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:49
Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page