Aboriginal freedom fighters to be remembered

June 14, 2012
Commemoration event for Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, Melbourne, 2012. Photo: Takver/Flickr

Aboriginal resistance leaders Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener where executed in Melbourne in 1842. They where sentenced to death for their resistance against the colonial settlers’ drive to take over their land. However, today they are not remembered as heroes. Rather, they are hardly remembered at all.

Aboriginal rights supporters have organised commemorations for the two men for the past seven years, but a campaign for a permanent public memorial had gone an unanswered, until now.

The Age reported on June 8 that Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener “will be remembered in a memorial at the site of their execution ... as part of an indigenous heritage plan being developed by the City of Melbourne”.

In 1986 Jan Roberts published her book Jack of Cape Grim, which contains her research of the two freedom fighters. It includes the details of their resistance, trail and execution including the fact that they where not able to make a statement in their own defence.

Many years later in 2005, activist Dr Joseph Toscano read Roberts’ book and was inspired to hold the commemoration in the form of a march from the execution sight (now RMIT University) to the burial place (now the Victorian Markets).

There are countless numbers of statues and memorials throughout Melbourne of European ancestors who lost their lives. Now, after a seven year campaign there will finally be one for two Aboriginal activists of the past as well.

When told about these events, Roberts told takver.com: “Wonderful to see this happening. It fulfils a long dream of mine.”

[For photos of the 2012 commemeration visit http://www.flickr.com//photos/takver/sets/72157603761110484/show]

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