The return of Indigenous ancestral remains from overseas institutions is only the first step in the journey of returning ancestors back to Country.

28 April 2017

Recently, Ngadjon-Jii representatives, Aunty Vera Ketchell and Richard Hoolihan, received their ancestor King Ng:tja, Barry Clarke, from the Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory. King Ng:tja’s remains were returned at a smoking ceremony at the Australian Embassy in Berlin.

As Aunty Vera commented during the ceremony, “This is only the start of the journey. The important ceremony for the Ngadjon-Jii community and family begins when we return granddad Barry to the rainforest and guide his spirit back to Country.”

Aunty Vera and Mr Hoolihan accompanied granddad Barry home to Australia in late March 2017.

Today, the Ngadjon-Jii members conducted a traditional smoking ceremony at the Museum of Tropical Queensland to prepare granddad Barry for his temporary resting. The community will arrange for his final resting on Country in the coming months.

“This will be the time for the community to come together to complete the grieving process and have closure,” said Aunty Vera.

The Indigenous Repatriation Program administered by the Department of Communications and the Arts facilitated the return of King Ng:tja’s remains and the participation of his descendants in the smoking ceremony.

About the Indigenous Repatriation Program

The Indigenous Repatriation Program seeks to facilitate the voluntary and unconditional return of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains from overseas collecting institutions and private holders. Program staff work closely with community members throughout the repatriation process.

Once ancestors are returned to Australia, community members may work with state and territory museums to provide temporary care for their ancestors while arrangements are prepared for return to Country. Community members may also request the assistance of their state or local governments to assist with reburial.

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