Input sort from Menang Aboriginal community as long wait to return ancestral remains to country nears its end

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Olivia Roberts says it is important for the ancestral remains to be returned so they “can finally rest”.
Camera IconOlivia Roberts says it is important for the ancestral remains to be returned so they “can finally rest”. Credit: Laurie Benson

Members of the Menang Aboriginal community are being encouraged to attend a December meeting to help determine where, when and how ancestral remains will be returned to country.

The remains were stolen from unknown Aboriginal burial grounds in the 1870s and then sold to the State Ethnographic Collections in Saxony, Germany in 1888.

Six partials sets of Menang ancestral remains, identified by provenance as being from King George Sound, were among the collections of more than 80 ancestral remains of Indigenous Australians.

An agreement in 2019 between the Australian and German governments led to the remains being returned to WA in 2019.

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The six Menang ancestors have since been in the care of the WA Museum and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage in Perth.

Plans are now being made to return the remains to be buried appropriately on country.

A meeting organised by the Wagyl Kaup Southern Noongar Aboriginal Corporation on December 14 will help inform the Menang Aboriginal community of the repatriation process.

It will also help decide the location, ceremony and date of the burial for the six Menang ancestors.

Corporation cultural advice committee chair Olivia Roberts said the remains of the ancestors were taken over a century ago and needed “to be returned to their land so they can finally rest”.

“It’s important for members of the community to come along to this meeting to learn more about the work to bring our ancestors home, and to lay them to rest on their boodja in a culturally appropriate way,” she said.

The meeting will run from 11am on Thursday, December 14 at the Albany Aboriginal Centre and will be run with the support of DPLH’s Harley Coyne and Ken Kelly.

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