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Trukanini
, Undated

by Charles Woolley and J.W. Beattie (printer)

albumen silver photograph (sheet: 27.0 cm x 21.1 cm)

Trukanini (c.1812-1876), Tasmanian Aboriginal woman, saw many of her family members and close associates brutally killed or enslaved by white settlers. However, when George Augustus Robinson was appointed as a 'conciliator' between whites and Aborigines she was persuaded to accompany him on his expeditions to help win the native groups' confidence. Robinson's project was to relocate the indigenous inhabitants to Flinders Island, for the supposed benefit of both old and new inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land. Most of the Aboriginal people died soon after arrival; Trukanini outlived them all. She spent her last years in Hobart, where she was given the bogus title of 'Queen of the Aborigines' and gained a misguided reputation as the 'last of her race'. She was publicly mourned when she died, but her remains were subsequently displayed in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The ashes of her skeleton were finally scattered with due ceremony on the waters of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel in 1976.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by
Allanah Dopson & Nicholas Heyward 2009
Accession number: 2009.4