Aboriginal timeline: Remains repatriation

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2019

  1. The Illinois State Museum in the USA agrees to unconditionally return 42 culturally significant objects of the Aranda people of Central Australia, and Bardi Jawi people of the northern Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia. The Aboriginal nations plan to return them to country and use them in the maintenance and revival of cultural practices, and support intergenerational knowledge transfer.

    The Return of Cultural Heritage project identified some 95,000 Aboriginal objects held in more than 200 overseas collecting institutions around the world.

  2. Manchester Museum becomes the first UK institution to return sacred ceremonial items to Aboriginal people. The artefacts include a headdress made from emu feathers, body ornaments, slippers, a churinga (wood or stone item believed to embody the spiritual double of a relative or ancestor) and clapsticks. Representatives from the Gangalidda Garawa received the first items.

  3. Germany's State of Saxony hands over the ancestral remains of 42 Aboriginal people in Leipzig.

2020

  1. The Yindjibarndi people of Roebourne, WA, celebrate the unconditional return of eight secular items from Andover, United Kingdom (UK), where the family of a private collector had held them for more than 100 years. The items include a shield, spear thrower, two boomerangs and four wooden spear heads.

2021

  1. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem returns more than 1,800 artefacts including stone tools, grindstones, and other material. Carl Shipman of Melbourne donated the collection to the Israel Museum in the 1970s.

  2. More than 100 First Nations ancestors remains are laid to rest at Wangayarta in Adelaide’s north (SA), an area specifically designed as a final resting place for remains.

2023

  1. In a landmark example of cultural repatriation, Manchester museum returns more than 174 everyday objects to the Anindilyakwa community, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the northern coast of Australia. Items include dolls made from shells, baskets, fishing spears, boomerangs, armbands and a map made from turtle shells. Manchester Museum’s return of the objects is significant because repatriation projects normally revolve around sacred or ceremonial items. The museum’s head of collections had spent time on Groote Eylandt, and the community was directly involved in deciding what should be returned, and what should stay in Manchester.

    We have declared [Manchester Museum] is open to future repatriations, and we expect that this is part of the future of museums, not just ours, but other museums in the future.

    — Georgina Young, Head of Collections and Exhibitions, Manchester Museum

References

View article sources (2)

[1] 'Cultural heritage material to be returned to Aranda and Bardi Jawi communities from overseas', AIATSIS 10/9/2019
[2] 'Indigenous artefacts from Groote Eylandt returned after decades in Manchester Museum, but 'several hundred' still remain', ABC News 6/9/2023

Cite this page

Korff, J 2024, Aboriginal timeline: Remains repatriation, <https://stage.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/remains-repatriation?page=3>, retrieved 16 July 2024

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