Museums and Universities around the world hold Aboriginal human remains. I think this is appalling and should not have happened, but it did. So now is the time to return those remains to the rightful people.
In Australia, many museums are holding on to skeletal and hair of our ancestors. These were not donated to these institutions they were taken. Many people robbed graves to get these remains and the funerary objects with them. These people did not give permission for their graves to be robbed. Nor did they have the right to stop the missionary from cutting their hair to take samples.
Many have heard of Archibald Meston and his ilk, these men went out and sought remains and objects to sell to museums and private collections. Don’t think it was nice they way they treated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Even today some question the behavior of those collectors…
They, being the museums, tell us that they are not the owners of these remains, but the keepers of them until they can be handed back to the families and communities to have a burial or to be housed in somewhere safe.
But these people and the hair samples and other objects are not really safe in these fine institutions, they are there and have been used by researchers. It is well-known that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have agreed to have their ancestors DNA tested by researchers, it is also well known that a lot of these people were misled by these Gods of science.
I know of a couple of Communities and families who have agreed to have themselves and their ancestors in a research study, but they were of the impression that it was about making sure the ancestors went home to the rightful people, and they are still waiting on word on how the testing went. Some find out through news stories about research. White people using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for their own ends.
Many of these researchers use unethical techniques to gain the trust of people and to get permission but use the research for their own benefits. This practice has to stop. All the remains must go home and they must be safe from researchers.
The taking of these remains is another “Stolen Generation”. With families not knowing where their ancestors have gone. This is another breakdown in our links to our past. A lot of us grew up with stories of the white man coming in and stealing graves, shooting people, boiling down the bodies so they only had skeletons to carry away with them.
How in the name of science can you go against the beliefs of others? How can you just see bones and not see the person that once was? How can ethical science use these and assume permission is given because they are in a museum vault? Lets be honest, the ancestors didn’t ask to be part of some collection and they sure as hell wouldn’t want to be crushed, shattered and cut up for more scientific research.
We need more Bob Weatherall’s in the world, people who fight against these institutions to bring our family home again. Restore the family links and the Dreaming