March 29, 2006

More on the return of Tasmanian indigenous remains from Britain

Posted at 12:41 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following the announcement that a number of museums in the UK are to return Aboriginal artefacts to Australia, the Australian Indigenous Affairs minister has highlighted the work by Hobart Aboriginal Leader Rodney Dillon in securing the return of these artefacts.

The Mercury (Tasmania, Australia)

UK deal on more remains

A TASMANIAN Aborigine has won praise for his part in an historic agreement to return indigenous remains to Australia.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough singled out Hobart’s Rodney Dillon as he announced the agreement with British museums that should lead to remains being returned within six months.

The museums are in Exeter, Bristol, Manchester, Tyne-and-Wear, the British Museum in London, and one in Cornwall,

Last week the British Museum announced it would be returning two Aboriginal talismans to Tasmania.

The two bundles of animal skin are stuffed with ashes of a Tasmanian Aborigine who died up to 200 years ago.

“It is a fitting outcome from more than 20 years of campaigning by indigenous Tasmanians and many years of work by the Australian and British Governments and by the British institutions which have held these remains often more than 100 years,” Mr Brough said.

“I want to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of Rodney Dillon, a Tasmanian Aboriginal leader, and other indigenous people, whose hard work has helped secure the return of these remains.”

Last night former ATSIC Commissioner Mr Dillon acknowledged the support of the Australian Government and the Australian High Commission in London.

An agreement between Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Blair in 2000 was a turning point.

“Both could see that it was wrong. I went to hear Mr Blair yesterday and he talked about righting injustice,” Mr Dillon said.

“It’s about righting the wrongs of the past. When those people died they thought they would be there forever.

“Ten years ago the people at museums believed they were the caretakers. There’s been a big change.”

He said remains taken belonged to people old and young, girl and boy.

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