Monday, July 14, 2008

Aboriginal remains welcomed home

An Aboriginal community in South Australia has welcomed back human remains taken to the UK more than a century ago.

Elders and children from the Ngarrindjeri clan gathered around a fire at Camp Coorong to welcome home the remains of their ancestors.

The two skulls and an earbone were taken from South Australia in the 19th century for scientific research and held by several institutions in Edinburgh and London.

Last week they were handed back and today they have been returned to their spiritual home in the Coorong.

The boxes holding the remains were carried through smoke and then taken into a special room where many paid their respects.

Aboriginal elder Tom Trevorrow says many institutions are slowly recognising the removal of Aboriginal bodies was culturally wrong.

"There are a lot of museums and institutions that are understanding that and returning," he said.

"There are still some that are saying 'No they belong to us, they mean a lot to us for scientific purposes' and we say 'No, we want them back home'.

"There are a lot of people, scientists and that, we know they say 'Oh they're skeletal remains'. To us they're our old relations, they're our family."

Ngarrindjeri elder George Trevorrow says his people are appealing for state funds and are still seeking to have more remains returned, some of which are held in Australian museums.

"The next problem is reinterring them from here on and that's where we come to a bit of a halt sometimes because financially we're stuffed in regards to taking them back," he said.


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