In October 2019, an AIATSIS led delegation travelled to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois to collect forty two secret / sacred and secular items. The delegation was made up of two community nominated representatives from the Aranda Nation and the Bardi Jawi Nation, as well as staff from the AIATSIS Return of Cultural Heritage project team.
The Aranda material was returned to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) on Wednesday, 6 November 2019. A number of Senior Aranda Loremen and apprentice Loremen attended the ceremony, as did Christopher Simpson and the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians.
‘It’s good they’ve come back and can now rest forever. To us, it means a lot, to the Aranda tribe … it was emotional, really, really emotional, I can't find the words to describe it, how we felt about our artefacts being here, back home in central Australia. We already know about the songs of the artefacts, they're going to be restored for our future generations, we will be talking to our grandsons about the artefacts, but in a public way.
‘I experienced the same feeling when I travelled to America to bring our artefacts home, it's the start of getting artefacts back from around the world, and it’s the beginning.’ — Braydon Kanjira, Senior Aranda Loreman
Although it was a private event at the request of the Senior Aranda Loremen, the ceremony demonstrated to those in attendance the importance of returning cultural heritage material to Country.
On 28 November 2019, the repatriated Bardi Jawi material was returned to Country at Cape Leveque, Western Australia. The items were welcomed by a small delegation from the community, along with AIATSIS representatives Christopher Simpson and Iain Johnston.
‘We are very strong with our culture here, we still practise our culture here, but it does give us, strengthen us more and for the young people to look at these things and say hang on ... we can't lose it now, we've just got to carry on.’ — Frank Davey, Bardi Jawi Elder