Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors to return home

The Albanese Labor Government is facilitating the return of 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors from the United States of America back to Australia.

Representatives of the Narungga and Kaurna nations of South Australia have travelled to the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. to receive and accompany their ancestors home.

The remaining 23 ancestors will be returned under the stewardship of the Australian Government, which will arrange for their safekeeping until their traditional custodians are determined.

While further research needs to be undertaken, six of these ancestors have provenance to the Torres Strait Islands and six ancestors have provenance to South Australia. The remaining 11 ancestors have provenance to Australia.

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, met with the Smithsonian Institute last week in preparation for this return and commended their commitment to the repatriation of ancestors back to their homelands.

“This is some of the most important, respectful work a Government can do,” Minister Burke said.

“The repatriation process recognises the spiritual connection between the past and present and the ongoing connection to traditional homelands. This return is an important step towards healing and reconciliation. And it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to securing the return of all ancestors held in public and private collections overseas.”

This represents the third return of ancestors to Australia from the Smithsonian Institute, with a further return of remaining ancestors held in their care to be undertaken at a later date.

Over 125 ancestors have now been returned to Australia from the United States of America.

For more information on Indigenous Repatriation, visit: www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/cultural-heritage/indigenous-repatriation