• FILE: The remains of Mungo Man were handed back to traditional owners in November 2015 to begin their long journey home. (NITV)Source: NITV
A crowd funding campaign to raise funds to host a Return to Country event for Mungo Man's remains was held in Melbourne at the weekend.
By
Hashela Kumarawansa

Source:
NITV
26 Sep 2017 - 3:47 PM  UPDATED 26 Sep 2017 - 6:44 PM

The event aimed to spread awareness about an upcoming concert to commemorate the return of Mungo Man's remains.

On Saturday, traditional owners of Lake Mungo met with the geologist who discovered the remains in 1974, Dr Jim Bowler.

“This is a hugely significant event for Aboriginal people", Dr Bowler said.

"It is recognition of their ongoing custodianship of this land and recognition that the First Australians were the first humans on record to bring spirituality to consciousness."

It was in 1974 when Jim Bowler discovered Mungo Man's remains by the banks of Lake Mungo in south western NSW.

The discovery proved Aboriginal people were here for much longer than initially thought, eventually pushing back the date of Australia's first recorded human to 42,000 years.

Steve Meredith, from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, said Mungo Man highlighted Australia's long and rich Indigenous history.

"This man proved to the world that it was a ritual burial and therefore, we had a religion", he said.

"To be a man of stature and to bury with such ceremony means we also had a social structure, so you can't draw any other conclusion than the fact that we had a vibrant society."

However, as revolutionary as the discovery was, the removal of Mungo Man's remains was met with backlash from some.

Jim Bowler said: "We came along in the wake of that violent phase of science history with Aboriginal people and so we were seen as a continuation of that violence."

"So to Aboriginal people, I understand that pain, and I regret very much that human biologists for a hundred years were responsible for that continued violence on Aboriginal skeletons."

Read more:
Comment: Mungo Man moves to National Museum, but he’s still not home
The figure of Mungo Man has emerged with iconic status, not only for Aboriginal history, but as a defining figure amplifying the very notion of how we see ourselves as Australian.
Move to return Mungo Man home
There's renewed speculation that the bones of the so-called "Mungo Man" may finally be returned to the care of traditional owners.

Mungo Man's remains were held at the Australian National University before a 2015 decision to officially hand the body back to traditional owners.

Since then, he has been stored at Canberra's National Museum of Australia while discussions between government departments and traditional owners took place to decide his final resting place.

Jim Bowler, in partnership with the National Museum of Australia, has donated a casket to hold Mungo Man's remains for his burial.

Tim Costello, the Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia, said this is a fitting tribute to Australia's oldest man.

"The only question any human ever has is 'do I matter?' And when someone honours you in death with a whole liturgy and a ceremony - and this is 40,000 years ago - we can answer unequivocally that this person mattered", Costello said.

In talks held in Mildura on Monday afternoon, the date for the Return to Country event for the return home of Mungo Man was confirmed as November the 18th.