More than 50 years ago, a significant collection of 174 culturally significant artefacts from the Anindilyakwa community was crated up and shipped to the Manchester museum.
Now, after more than five decades in England, the museum has returned these items to the NT community.
Two representatives from the Anindilyakwa community travelled to Manchester from Groote Eylandt country to receive the objects taken in the 1950s. The items included spears, bark baskets, woven armbands and painted doll shells.
Federal minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said each item in the collection was historically relevant.
"Today is one of celebration for the Anindilyakwa people, as they welcome back these culturally significant items, including the dadikwakwa-kwa or shell dolls that have been returned to the children and grandchildren of those who made them."
The significance of returning the items
Kamilaroi elder Len Waters said all the Australian Indigenous artefacts currently held by museums belong on country.
"All artefacts had a purpose and are recognised by Aboriginal people and tribes throughout Australia," he said.
"They all contained a story or a message known not only to country, but also people.
"It is very important to have those things on country, as once they are removed from country it's almost like having something missing."
Mr Waters reflected on the time the granddaughter of a German explorer returned the bones of an Indigenous man.
"She arrived at the wharf and she saw the old fellas' waiting for his bones to be returned.
"She began to weep uncontrollability, as she saw the impact that it had on these people. But, instead of being angry at her, they held her and told her not to worry, as she has done the right thing," he said.
The Tamworth Elder said in the past few years many artefacts had been returned to the region, but there were many items that remained missing.
"The significance of these items being returned is immeasurable. The more items that we see returned to country, not only from across the sea, but also the across Australia is vital," he said.
Top 6 of the contested artefacts around the world
- The Rosetta Stone, currently resides in the British museum. This granodiorite stone is one of the most significant artefacts in Egyptian history. As the stone allowed for the decrypting of ancient hieroglyphics from translated ancient Greek.
- Treasures from the Ethiopian Empire, currently held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is unknown how many priceless items were stolen from the empire back in 1868, after the battle of Magdala. But, these treasures hold great cultural significance to the country.
- Bust of Nefertiti, currently housed at Neuse Museum in Berlin. One of the most renowned artefacts in all of human history. The Egyptian government has petitioned for the return of their beloved-queen since 1924.
- The Koh-i-Noor Diamond, encased in the King of England Crown Jewels. Along with being one of the most cursed stone in the world, it is also one of the most contested. As the Indian government claims the British claimed the stone through illegally actions, after inciting imperial rule in India.
- Parthenon Marbles, on display at the British Museum. The marble depicts the birthday celebration of the goddess Athena and centaurs and Lapiths in battle. These artwork were removed from the Parthenon in Greece in the 1800s'. The British museum has continuously refused to return the marble.
- Maori Heads, spread throughout various European museum. Tattooed heads of Maori warriors, that were decapitated, are currently on display across various museums. The New-Zealand government is working towards repatriation of these ancestral remains.
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