Historians and indigenous activists have called for an end to the silence on the massacres of the indigenous population.

As World War I centenary celebrations ramp up, academics and indigenous activists have pushed for recognition of the frontier wars.

They want Australians to urgently broaden their understanding of Australian warfare to include the mass murder of Aboriginal people, particularly during colonial times.

“We are about to start four years of World War I commemorations and we need to be asking serious questions. The first and most important being whether we can understand and remember the wars inside Australia,” history professor Heather Goodall told a conference at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“We remember the lives given at Gallipoli and on the Western Front but we ignore the blood shed on our own home soil.”

The `frontier wars’ is the name given to the mass killings of Aboriginal Australians from 1842-1862 and beyond.

Governments after 1875 routinely denied the massacres, forcing historians to address with this black spot in the nation’s history.

Heritage activist Meredith Walker told the audience that more than 100 massacres took place in the 19th century in Queensland and NSW at Myall Creek, East Ballina, Dharawal and Tenterfield.

A descendent of those killed in the 1928 Coniston Massacre in the Northern Territory, Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, said the trauma of the violence still lingers in Aboriginal communities.

“The bones of our massacred families are still lying there, on the surface of the red soil,” he said.

“We live with this story, this pain, every day in our communities.”

Academics at the conference also highlighted the hero to pariah treatment of black diggers, who returned from the war with no recognition or compensation.

Ms Walker said that around 20 memorials around Australia have been erected recognising the efforts of the estimated 1000 black Anzacs but “most were put in after 2000 as attempts at reconciliation.”

The conference continues on Friday.