Published on 01 November, 2022

Warlpiri welcomes home sacred objects

This week 15 sacred objects were returned to the Warlpiri people of Yuendumu, in the Central Desert of the Northern Territory. The return comes after two and half years of consultation and visits from the Warlpiri community to the South Australian Museum.

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Warlpiri elders have visited the cultural collections five times over the past two years working alongside Jamie Jungarrayi Hampton, Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Officer and John Carty, Head of Humanities at the South Australian Museum to identify and research the objects.

Warlpiri Elder Tommy Jangala Watson explained why the work has been so important.

“The work Senior Warlpiri men have been doing the past couple of years is so important, we are always excited but emotional when our objects come back home. Us men today are really happy now that these objects are coming back home”.

The return of sacred objects to Country is important for knowledge sharing in young people and future generations of Warlpiri.

Jamie Jungarrayi Hampton Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Officer at the South Australian Museum reflected on the process it has taken over the past two and half years to get to this point.

“It has been both an emotional and exciting past couple of years working with my cultural bosses on this return, this is the first step to many more repatriations for Warlpiri. It's an honour and privilege to be in this position helping my community and elders.”

The South Australian Museum is proud to partner with the Warlpiri community to ensure all sacred objects are returned to Country, where they belong.

John Carty, Head of Humanities at the South Australian Museum has been working alongside Jamie on the consultation and return of these objects.

“This project expresses the purpose of a modern Australian Museum. We are excited to serve the cultural ambitions of Aboriginal people beyond the walls of the Museum – in communities and on Country. In this case that means working together to bring sacred cultural materials out of the care of the Museum and back into the care of its true custodians. It’s a proud day for Warlpiri men but also for us as a museum.”

Senior Warlpiri men thanked the South Australian Museum for their ongoing support and partnership with Warlpiri.

“Warlpiri has established a strong relationship with the South Australian Museum, it’s a partnership that is delivering real outcomes for Warlpiri and we look forward to continuing that”.

The South Australian Museum will continue working with the Warlpiri community and other stakeholders to return other sacred objects as soon as possible.

This return was made possible with the support of the Commonwealth Indigenous Repatriation Program, GMAAAC and the University of Adelaide.

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Aboriginal Heritage and Repatriation