Most people who've ever done an anthropology course in the last 4 decades will have heard of extinct peoples. At least 2 decades ago it was assumed
that people were made not just culturally, but racially extinct during colonialization. The term "extinct peoples" was often found appended to
"extinct animals". Some of the historical cases that always fascinated me were the Jaghan and Ona (Firelanders), the Cape Khoisan, and the Tasmanian
In the 1970s and much of the 1980s the extinction of these peoples was a set fact. Now the Firelanders are "probably" extint (they interviewed one
on the Travel Channel), and the Khoisan and Tasmanians are reliving mixed-blood revival. Yet, (apart from one !Xam woman) nobody speaks the language
or knows much of the culture.
So how can peoples be "extinct" and suddenly reappear? Perhaps there are monetary and other rewards? It seems identities are dropped and assumed for
The Pequot tribe were apparently down to 20 people and now have several hundred members, after the US Indian Gambling Acts were passed.
What is worse is that several self-styled Khoi chiefs have appeared in the Western Cape, often each decrying the other as a fake.
In Tasmania the more indeginous Lia Pootah are in conflict with the off-shore Palawa:
"The Palawa is constantly telling the world at large that we are white and only pretending to be Aboriginal. That the Palawa want this to be the
truth does not make it a fact. Even by denying Lia Pootah people the right to vote in elections, access services set up for the Tasmanian Aboriginal
community, and forcing ignorant white bureaucrats to initiate policies that exclude us will not stop us being who we are.
Palawa enforcement of racist discriminatory polices along the lines of Neo Nazi fanaticism will never remove who we are. This situation is allowed
to exist by the Tasmanian Government and Councils despite the fact that we have validated our heritage by using the documentary evidence through the
courts. Some of our community has been through the courts twice, or three times. We have one member who has had their Aboriginality verified at a
ministerial level. Other members have Aboriginal passports which are now not accepted. We all have a multitude of paper proclaiming our Aboriginal
heritage that is recognised in every state in Australia but not in Tasmania the land of our birth.
Lia Pootah, made helpless by Palawa lies, watch as Palawa are given control of our ancestral land, determine who can access it and create friction and
hatred between the Aboriginal people and the broader community." (www.tasmanianaboriginal.com.au...
So when are a people really extinct? Can any of these claims be taken at face value?
[edit on 16-12-2009 by halfoldman]
[edit on 17-12-2009 by halfoldman]