The lost histories behind museum holdings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ancestral remains provide cautionary tales as to what happens when a society neglects, forgets, or attempts to conceal traumatic episodes in its history. As the writing of the history becomes separated from the event in time, in space, and in culture, the short-term impacts of the event are lost, while the long-term impacts are often trivialized or ignored. However, on re-discovery, it becomes clear that these histories cannot be left to disappear. This paper describes some of the emerging recovered histories that have been facilitated by the repatriation of ancestral remains by the National Museum of Australia. I hope it will serve as a reminder that the events of the past do echo in the present.
- Repatriation of ancestral remains
- Aboriginal remains
- Torres Strait Islander remains
- National Museum of Australia repatriation program
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