Repatriation of First Nations ancestors from Smithsonian

Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

The Albanese Labor Government welcomes today’s return of 14 First Nations ancestors from The Smithsonian’s, National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Seven ancestors will be returned to their respective Traditional Custodians from the Ngarrindjeri (South Australia), Eastern Maar (Victoria) and Yawuru (Western Australia) communities.

Each of these communities will undertake cultural ceremonies to receive their ancestors and accompany them home.

The Government will return a further five ancestors with provenance to Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia under Australian Government stewardship, along with two ancestors with provenance to a community in Victoria at the community’s request.

For those ancestors who are unable to be returned directly to Country, the Australian Government arranges the temporary safekeeping for these ancestors so they can be cared for closer to Country.

With this repatriation,1,700 First Nations ancestors have been returned from overseas collecting institutions and private collectors since 1990, including 139 ancestors from the United States.

This is the fourth return of ancestors from the National Museum of Natural History since 2008.

The Government continues to work closely with the National Museum to progress the repatriation of other ancestors still held in its care.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke:

“Bringing First Nations ancestors home – where they belong – is incredibly important work.

“The Government will continue to advocate for the return of ancestors right across the world.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney:

“Repatriation of First Nations ancestors is an important step toward reconciliation.”

“This sets a positive example for other collecting institutions internationally in recognising First Nations people as the rightful custodians of their ancestors.”

/Public Release. View in full here.