17 August 2017
Cultural objects to be returned

IN THE past 100 years many culturally important objects have been taken away from Groote Eylandt and the ALC is making plans to have some of these returned.

A heritage protection training program for traditional owners, ALC staff and rangers is being put in place so objects can be looked after and kept safe for future generations.

The training program will also teach how to identify and protect culturally important sites on country. 
ALC anthropologist Hugh Bland said having trained people so that museums delivering objects would know they would be looked after.

“It is important that we develop a training package for heritage management in the next few months so we can get objects back and to make sure important cultural sites and objects are preserved,” Hugh said.

Following consultation with senior men, a group of objects including restricted men’s objects have been approved for return from the Museum and Art Gallery NT (MAGNT). 

Another repatriation project is arranging the return of excavated archaeological material from Sydney University. This material is mainly shells taken from dinner camps, and has remains of ochre, pottery shards, iron and introduced material. The material has been used to give carbon datings for some sites that were used by Anindilyakwa and Macassans, and in other sites they record Indigenous occupation of the island prior to arrival of the Macassans.

Other objects to be returned work include photographs and other work by anthropologist Fred Rose, mostly related to Umbakumba and the Qantas base.

The training will be mainly for rangers and traditional owners learning to become cultural guides. 
Once trained, they can accompany tourists or workers going on country. 

Rangers will also have an ongoing job managing heritage sites and testing art or archaeological sites for threats such as fire, weeds and feral animals.

Image: Traditional owners inspect the storerooms at Museum and Art Gallery NT: Tony Wurramarrba, Elma Maminyamanja, Leslie Pyne (ALC), Muriel Daniels, Alfred Mamarika and Poppy Searle (MAGNT).