Human Remains Repatriated
14 July 2008
In July Exeter returned human remains to the Ngarrindjeri people from South Australia. Representatives from the Australian Government accompanied the Ngarrindjeri to Exeter to collect the remains of their ancestors.
This is the third repatriation since Exeter City Council adopted its proactive stance towards the return of human remains in 1994 – remains were returned to New Zealand and North America in 1996 and to Tasmania in 2005. These remains were taken from Australia in the 19th century and later donated to RAMM. The Museum contacted the Ngarrindjeri people when provenance investigations determined that these human remains had come from their home.
The official handover was followed by a traditional cleansing ceremony. Both were open to press and public and held at RAMM in the Library, the Museum’s temporary city centre home.
Mr Tom Trevorrow, Chair of the Ngarrindjeri Nation Heritage Committee, said
“The Ngarrindjeri People of the Lower Murray, Lakes and Coorong Region in South Australia are truly thankful of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum for returning our Old Peoples Remains back to us so that they can be laid to rest once again in their own birth land: the Ngarrindjeri Yarluwar-Ruwe (Sea Country) of their Creation, Culture and Beliefs.
“We have been waiting a long time for this process to take place and also wish to thank the UK Government and Australian Government for making repatriation possible. We encourage other Institutions throughout the world to adopt and follow this respectful cultural process of returning Old People’s human remains back to their Traditional Owners/Relations/Families.
“It is a positive step culturally and spiritually for Ngarrindjeri People and a contribution to the healing of wrongful and hurtful colonizing practices making the returns of our Old People and a step towards reconciliation.”
Cllr Kevin Mitchell, Lead Councillor for Environment and Leisure, commented
“The Council is delighted to be able to help the Ngarrindjeri people with their quest to have their ancestors returned. RAMM is a dynamic museum. Grounded in the city, it is outward looking and always keen to redefine its strong international links. We are pleased that this chapter can be closed amicably and hope this will be the start of a new friendship.”