The remains of 45 Australian indigenous ancestors are due to be repatriated from Germany.
The return of the remains, as part of the federal government’s Indigenous Repatriation Program, has been described as “significant to so many”.
Thirty-five ancestral remains will be returned to the Gunaikurnai people in Victoria, six ancestors to the Menang people in Western Australia and one to the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia, the government said.
Another three remains will be brought back and placed into temporary care while further research is carried out to determine their origin.
Five community members will attend a ceremony this week at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig to bring their ancestors home.
It is believed thousands of Aboriginal remains were taken from burial sites and hospitals before being sent overseas until the late 1940s for scientific purposes.
“This repatriation continues the Morrison Government’s commitment to work with communities and cultural institutions in Australia and abroad to preserve our unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to help all Australians gain a better understanding of our nation’s shared history,” Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said in a statement.
Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the repatriation brings the total number of Australian indigenous ancestors returned from Germany to 150. It’s the second repatriation from Germany this year.
“Indigenous Australians are the rightful custodians of their ancestors’ remains and this repatriation is significant to so many,” he said.
He thanked the German government for their cooperation, saying the return “reflects a deep respect for Australia’s Indigenous peoples”.
The remains of 1618 indigenous ancestors have been repatriated from across the world in the past 30 years – the vast majority from the UK, followed by Germany and the United States.
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