Travelling Bones: The Repatriation of Indigenous Ancestral Remains

Matthew Rimmer, 'Travelling Bones: The Repatriation of Indigenous Remains', in Susanne Berthier-Foglar, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick and Sandrine Tolazzi (Eds.) Biomapping Indigenous Peoples: Towards an Understanding of the Issues, Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2012, 369-390

Posted: 10 Nov 2012

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: November 8, 2012

Abstract

In the album Journey, Archie Roach -- the Australian Indigenous singer-songwriter hailing from Mooroopna in Victoria - has a melancholy song called ‘Travell’n Bones.' It is about the repatriation of Indigenous ancestral remains to their rightful home. This Chapter considers the legal, ethical, and cultural conflicts over Australian indigenous remains being held in museums, in Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United States. James Nason comments: ‘The explosion of legal and extra legal attention on issues of cultural property and heritage was born of the frustration and anger of indigenous peoples whose rights and perspectives about cultural property and heritage issues had been largely absent and essentially unwanted by the museum of community.' Part I focuses upon disputes in Australia involving the repatriation of Indigenous Australian remains. In Bropho v HREOC, there was controversy over a cartoon, mocking the repatriation of the remains of Yagan, an Indigenous warrior, to Western Australia. There was a discussion about the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), and the exemptions available from the operation of the regime. Part II considers the efforts by The Te Papa Tongarewa - the Museum of New Zealand - to repatriate Maori and Moriori ancestral remains to New Zealand, and to iwi communities of origin. The conclusion considers the relevance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons 2007, and issues raised by ventures such as the Genographic Project.

Keywords: Indigenous, Intellectual Property, Cultural Heritage, Ancestral Remains, Museums, Libraries, Racial Discrimination

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Travelling Bones: The Repatriation of Indigenous Ancestral Remains (November 8, 2012). Matthew Rimmer, 'Travelling Bones: The Repatriation of Indigenous Remains', in Susanne Berthier-Foglar, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick and Sandrine Tolazzi (Eds.) Biomapping Indigenous Peoples: Towards an Understanding of the Issues, Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2012, 369-390. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2173099

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000
Australia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
544
PlumX Metrics