• Senior Gawara man Donald Bob and Gangalidda man Mangubadijarri Yanner receive the artefacts. (NITV News )Source: NITV News
For the first time, a major cultural institution in the UK has returned traditional cultural artefacts to a First Nations group to repatriate them to Country.
Danny Teece-Johnson, Jack Latimore

20 Nov 2019 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 21 Nov 2019 - 5:49 PM

A delegation from the Gangalidda-Garawa First Nations received a number of cultural artefacts from the Manchester Museum on Tuesday in a hand back program that will see the items repatriated to their traditional Country in Far North Queensland.

The hand back forms part of a 'Return of Cultural Heritage project', a program facilitated by the Australian government in partnership with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATISIS).

The program seeks to return Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage material from overseas collecting institutions back to its original custodians and owners.

Gumbaynggirr celebrates the repatriation of ancestral remains with ceremony
After prolonged negotiations over the final resting place of ancestral remains unearthed on New South Wales' mid-north coast, they have finally been returned to Country.

The artefacts returned to the Gangalidda-Garawa peoples had been off Country for over a century and the hand back will be the first ever repatriation of artefacts from the United Kingdom back to their rightful First Nations Country in Australia.

The artefacts will return to Country during the week of 16th December where they will be used in ceremony once again.

Two delegates from the group said it was both a historic and emotional moment.

"It was an immensely proud moment for myself as a young Aboriginal person, as a young Gangalidda man, to be able to play a small part in bringing our cultural heritage materials back home to Country where they belong," said Mangubadijarri Yanner.

While Senior Garawa man, Uncle Donald Bob, said he felt "really heartbroken" to see the artefacts which "come from way across on the other side of the world" being displayed in the UK museum. 

Traditional song that inspired Yothu Yindi's 'Treaty' repatriated to Yolgnu Peoples
In 1989, Mandawuy Yunupingu walked into the Yirrkala Literature Production Centre and heard a song which unleashed a creativity that would result in the composition of one of the greatest Australian songs of all time.