September 5, 2006

Tasmanian artefacts return home

Posted at 12:49 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Heidelberg University was not the only institution in Europe to be handing back artefacts yesterday. The British Museum also completed the return agreed to earlier this year, of two packages of aboriginal burial ashes to Tasmania.
Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out before, the British Museum while now happy to make returns in cases involving human remains refuses to get involved in many other cases which have equal validity.

ABC News (Australia)

Last Update: Tuesday, September 5, 2006. 6:00pm (AEST)
British Museum returns Indigenous remains

Tasmanian Aborigines are celebrating the official return of remains of their people from London’s British Museum.

The two bundles of ashes were received by delegates Leah Brown and Adam Thompson, who used native flora in a ceremony they performed to mark the exchange.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has been campaigning since the 1970s to return the ashes to the state’s north-east, from where they were taken by colonial leader George Augustus Robinson in the 1830s.

The centre’s legal adviser, Michael Mansell, says under traditional law only certain family members were permitted to handle the remains.

“They would have been imprisoned at Wybelena [a mission] and they were dead, they were no longer free to move around the traditional areas,” he said.

“And one way or another, Robinson came to get hold of these ashes and then sent them out of the traditional areas.”

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