September 28, 2010

Australian Aboriginal leader laid to rest

Posted at 1:12 pm in Similar cases

The remains of an Australian Aboriginal leader that ended up in a Museum in the UK & then in an unmarked grave have no been returned to Australia & re-buried. This follows closely after the return of various Aboriginal remains by the US.

One Face in a Million

Aboriginal Leader Is Finally Laid To Rest After 170 Years

Posted by Will Byrne on Jul 13th, 2010 and filed under Featured News, World

Following more than 170 years of controversy, the final remains of one of Australia’s greatest Aboriginal leaders, the Noongar chieftain, Yagan, was laid to rest during a traditional ceremony in Western Australia on Saturday.

The native leader, who was killed in 1833 whilst leading the resistance against the British colonisation of Western Australia, was posthumously decapitated and his head, along with a portion of skin from his back, was sent to England for display at a British museum.

Yagan’s head, after many years of decomposition in storage, was eventually buried in an unmarked grave at Liverpool’s Everton cemetery in 1964.

However, following decades of campaigning by the Noongar people, the gravesite was finally located and the remains exhumed and returned to the fallen leader’s people in 1997.

Richard Wilkes, a spokesman for the Noongar people, was charged with the task of travelling to Britain to collect Yagan’s head

In an interview with Australian Broadcaster ABC he said, “We are all proud that Yagan will be buried with dignity.”

A statement released by the government of Western Australia acknowledged that the burial concluded a “long campaign by the Noongar people to reunite the head of the warrior Yagan with his body.”

The funeral ceremony, which was closed to the public, took place on Saturday at the newly opened Yagan Memorial Park near Perth, the National Park to which this great ruler gave his name.

“The Yagan Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the life, struggles and death of Yagan and to the memory of all Aboriginal people who suffered and died in support of their land, culture and heritage,” said Colin Barnett, the premier of Western Australia.

“This was a very important day in West Australian history”, he continued.

“I hope this corrects our history, balances our history and that Yagan will have his true place along with other leading West Australians and he will be remembered and respected and provide some inspiration, particularly for young Aboriginal people, to succeed and be proud of their race and endeavour to go forward.”

In a statement released on the day of Yagan’s funeral, the Western Australia Department of Indigenous Affairs agreed with Mr Barnett’s conclusions, adding “We move to acknowledge historical wrongs and use the wisdom of hindsight to gain a better understanding and appreciation of Yagan, the warrior and the man,”

“Yagan was a respected warrior, a man of his people and a man who had gained the respect of the early colonists.

“He was a leader of his people, a man who fought for his beliefs and also a man who extended the arm of friendship and was killed doing what he believed was right.”

Yagan’s exact burial site will remain a closed secret, according to reports. However, it is hoped that the entire national park will act as a shrine to the Aboriginal warrior. A fitting tribute indeed to the life of a man so indelibly linked to his people.

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