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Use science to bring the Ancestors home

A scientific method used by the Australian Defence Force could be used to return Aboriginal Ancestral remains to country they were stolen from, according to Rodney Carter, CEO of the Dja Dja Wurrung Group.

Mr Carter presented a paper, ‘Bringing the Ancestors home: informed consent’, for the American Anthropological Association Commission for the Ethical Treatment of Indigenous Human Remains Listening Session yesterday at the University of Queensland.

More than 12,000 cases of Aboriginal Ancestral remains are estimated to be held by state institutions in Australia.

“The spirits of these Ancestors are trapped and displaced from their mother countries. Aboriginal communities have stated their aspiration to return their Ancestors to the countries from which they were stolen,” Mr Carter said.

“Often, however, this aspiration can be thwarted by a lack of documentary evidence to establish the community of origin of Ancestral remains held by institutions.

“The science is there.”

Mr Carter’s paper outlined how isotope analysis – a method used by the ADF to repatriate fallen soldiers – could be used to determine the likely origin of Ancestral remains when no alternative evidence of geographic origins is available.

Read the media release here

UQ AAA Listening Session Program

TCETHR Protocol Listening Sessions Updated 2023