A Northern Territory Aboriginal community is getting a vast collection of cultural artefacts back from a UK museum.
The return of the 174 objects to the Anindilyakwa community from the Manchester Museum is being hailed as a landmark example of repatriation.
That’s because usually repatriation involves giving back sacred or culturally significant items that have been stolen or taken.
But this repatriation effort mainly contains everyday objects, including dolls made out of shells, hand weaved baskets, fishing spears, armbands, boomerangs and a map made out of a turtle shell.
The hope is the items will help revitalise Anindilyakwa culture and teach new generations about their people’s history.
Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Clan Representative Amethea Mamarika says the items will have a positive impact on the community.
“We are happy that the objects are going back to our homeland, where they belong so young people can follow in the footsteps of our ancestors.”
Elder Noeleen Lalara echoes the sentiment.
“I am happy and I’m proud for our people.”
The effort has garnered international attention with Unesco’s director for culture and emergencies, Krista Pikkat saying the objects’ return is more than a transaction.
“This is a case we have shared with our member states because we felt it was exemplary in many ways.” adding it was “a collaboration, a dialogue”, a project fuelled by “empathy, trust and love.”