Sacred ancient objects returned to Australian Indigenous leaders after centuries

24 Jul 2017 / 12:42 H.

MELBOURNE: More than 20 ancient sacred objects have been returned to Australian Indigenous leaders on Monday after a five-year campaign, China's Xinhua news agency reported.
The 26 items were returned to leaders of the Arrernte tribe in the Northern Territory (NT) by Victorian museums.
Many of the items have been lost to the Arrernte tribe for hundreds of years after they were either traded for, or stolen, by European traders upon their arrival in Australia.
"It's very, very important," Braydon Kantjira, leader of the Arrernte people, told Australian media on Monday.
"Important for our land, important to our people that they have come back.
Kantjira said that the items could not be shown or described to anyone but Arrernte men in accordance with their laws. They will be kept at the Museum of Central Australia.
The handover marks the end of a five-year process of getting the items back from Museums Victoria.
"We took five or six old men down there, senior leaders from the Arrernte people," Shaun Angeles, research officer from the Museum of Central Australia, said.
"They sighted these objects, and gave Museums Victoria instructions to send these ones back home so we can start consulting all the older people around here about these objects."
Philip Batty, senior curator of Museums Victoria, said the items were obtained through a number of methods.
"In most cases these objects were either traded or exchanged for European goods a hundred years ago for metal axes, knives etcetera," Batty said.
"Only a very small number in my understanding and research were stolen."
He said that it was a significant moment in his career to give the items back to the Arrernte people.
"For me personally it's quite moving," he said.
"We're very happy to comply with Aboriginal protocols and traditions and return these objects, because they are very important to Aboriginal people." — Bernama

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