Narungga and Kaurna ancestors are among those returning to their ancestral home.

25 July 2022

Twenty-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors have been returned from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian Institute hosted the handover ceremony where they acknowledged their commitment to repatriating ancestors to their traditional custodians.

As part of the ceremony the Australian Ambassador to the United States the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO spoke of the significance of returning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors and the vital role that it plays in reconciliation and healing.

Two of the ancestors returned are from the Narungga and Kaurna communities in South Australia. Representatives from these South Australian communities travelled to the United States of America to receive and accompany their ancestors’ home.

‘The repatriation of our Old People back to Country is crucial for our First Nations Peoples’ healing process to take place, and only when our Ancestors are returned to Country, will this healing process commence,’ said Doug Milera, of the Narungga Nation.

‘It is important for institutions to recognise the significance of returning the ancestors back to Country. The repatriation process allows us to reconcile the past wrongs and make things right for our ancestors,” said Allan Sumner, of the Kaurna Nation.

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

Through our efforts in Indigenous repatriation, we are committed to preserving, revitalising and strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ culture.

Over 125 ancestors have now been returned to Australia from the USA.

A further repatriation from the Smithsonian Institute will be undertaken at a later date to return the remaining ancestors held in its care to Australia.

For more information read the Minister’s media release.

Repatriation ceremony out the front of the Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. Kaurna Elder Major Sumner performs a smoking to prepare the ancestors for their journey home, with Allan Sumner (Kaurna), Doug Milera (Narungga) and Cyril Kartinyeri (Narungga).