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British Museum should return sacred objects

“I wish to again express my support for Rodney Kelly in his endeavour to retrieve sacred objects taken from Gweagal people by a member of Captain Cook's crew when the HMS Endeavour arrived in Botany Bay in 1770”, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“As Mr Kelly has said, these sacred artefacts were taken by gunfire and the legal title belongs to the descendant Gweagal people.

“Centuries ago, two members of the Gweagal people stood on the shore of Botany Bay and attempted to warn off a boat as it approached shore. What followed was one of the men, Cooman, running for cover and losing his shield and spears after a bullet to the leg.

“Now, as a descendent of Cooman, Mr Kelly, is seeking for the Gweagal shield and spears to be returned to the rightful owner from the British Museum, where it was sent all those years ago.

“The Senate has supported a motion supporting the repatriation of important artefacts to rightful  owners – the Gweagal people – from the British Museum.

“It is a positive step for Mr Kelly’s campaign that the Australian Senate has expressed its support for repatriation of these important artefacts. 

“It is core to Aboriginal belief that artefacts must be kept on country they came from. This has been a sustained campaign by Mr Kelly and the British Museum’s refusal to return them is deeply troubling.

“I call on the British Museum to do the right thing and return these sacred objects to where they belong”.


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