Last week, eight Australian Indigenous ancestors were repatriated from two collecting institutions in Sweden. During the first handover ceremony the remains of one ancestor was returned from Lund University and a few days later, seven ancestors were returned from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
One of the ancestors will be returned to the Kaurna Nation in Adelaide, South Australia, and the seven ancestors that have limited provenance will be cared for while further provenance research is undertaken to identify their community of origin.
Two Kaurna community representatives will today travel to Canberra where they will undertake a smoking ceremony. They will also receive another Kaurna Old Person who was previously returned under the Government’s Indigenous Repatriation Program in 2009. These Old People will be reburied on Country on 30 August.
The return of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains to their families and traditional country, is a profoundly important issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Kaurna Old Person was removed from Australia over 170 years ago, and the removal is still felt by the Kaurna Nation today.
Kaurna Elder and traditional custodian Jeffrey Newchurch says “…it is humbling to be able to lay to rest these Kaurna Old People on Country”.
Sweden undertook its first repatriation of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains in 1997, and has since returned 41 ancestors to Australia.
Over the last 25 years, the Australian Government has facilitated the return of more than 1480 Australian Indigenous ancestral remains from nine countries.