37 sets of ancestral remains possessed by London’s Natural History Museum are set to be repatriated to Indigenous Australian communities, following yesterday’s ceremonial return in the British capital.
Doug Milera and Professor Peter Buckskin, representatives of South Australia’s Narungga community, attended the ceremony to receive the remains of an ancestor.
The remains will be put into the care of the South Australian Museum until the community is ready to perform a burial. The South Australian Museum will carry out the same process for a further seven sets of ancestral remains.
The remaining 29 sets of remains are set to be cared for by the National Museum of Australia amid consultations with the Ngarrindjeri, Far West Coast, Kaurna and Flinders Ranges communities. Those remains will then be returned to Country.
The transportation of Indigenous Australian remains to Britain for experimentation and display remains a damning element of Australia’s colonial past, and the repatriation process marks an important step for Indigenous Australian communities to lay their ancestors to rest.
Speaking to the ABC, Professor Buckskin said “It is really important that those who have been taken are returned so they can rest eternally and spiritually.”
In a statement, Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield said “this return is a significant event for our country.”
Fifield praised the efforts of the Indigenous Repatriation Program, which has secured the return of more than 1480 ancestral remains from institutions worldwide.