Nyamal Nation welcomes the return of cultural heritage material

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - 5:00pm

Representatives of the Nyamal Nation participated in a private ceremony yesterday at the Western Australian Museum to welcome cultural heritage material that was recently repatriated from the Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester.

Nathan Newland, Njamal People’s Trust Project Consultant said, “We cannot fix the past only the future, so this is the start of closing those small gaps of what has been taken from us. So we as Aboriginal people can heal and build that trust to work together and educate ourselves to build a better future as one.”

The material was cared for by the Western Australian Museum for a short time as part of its long journey home from the United Kingdom. The six items, which include ceremonial body ornaments and clapsticks, have been in the UK for over one hundred years but are still made and used in Nyamal ceremonies today.

The ceremony follows the formal handover of Nyamal and Gangalidda Garawa cultural heritage material at Australia House in London on the 22nd of November after the Manchester Museum announced, in October 2019, it would unconditionally repatriate 43 significant items to the Nyamal, Gangalidda Garawa, Aranda and Yawuru peoples. This repatriation is part of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) led Return of Cultural Heritage Project, in partnership with the First Nations communities and the Manchester Museum.

AIATSIS CEO Mr Craig Ritchie said, “It is fantastic to mark and celebrate this significant event with the Nyamal people. The importance of First Nations peoples having control of their cultural heritage material, to look after it appropriately on Country or in museums and galleries here and abroad, cannot be overstated.”

Western Australian Museum CEO Mr Alec Coles said “We are both proud and honoured to provide assistance to the Nyamal people as part of the process to bring this significant material home. This is a great example of collaboration across the cultural sector, nationally and internationally, to support First Nations peoples’ aspirations to have material back on Country.”

Tony Taylor, Senior Nyamal Elder, accompanied the material home to Nyamal Country today. Where it will be cared for in a local keeping place and be put back into use in ceremony according to Nyamal cultural protocols.

AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie, Nathan Newland (Njamal Project Consultant), Tony Taylor (Senior Nyamal Elder and Njamal People’s Trust Representative), Evelyn Mitchell (Njamal People’s trust representative), Cheryl Geary (Community Liaison Office, Njamal People’s Trust) . Photo courtesy of WA Museum.

Read more about the Return of Cultural Heritage project.

The AIATSIS-led Return of Cultural Heritage Project is funded by the Australian Government as part of the measures to mark the 250th anniversary, in 2020, of James Cook’s first voyage to Australia.

Media enquiries:

Commsmedia@aiatsis.gov.au or P: 02 6261 4241

Last reviewed: 28 Nov 2019