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A UK museum has returned cultural artefacts to a First Nations community in the Northern Territory

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The items, called the ‘Worsley Collection’, included spears and shell dolls. The artefacts were bought or traded for in the 1950s.
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A UK Museum has returned 174 cultural artefacts to a First Nations community in the Northern Territory.

A delegation from the Anindilyakwa community of Groote Eylandt flew to the Manchester Museum this week. The museum handed over the items in a special ceremony this week.

The items, called the ‘Worsley Collection’, included spears and shell dolls. The artefacts were bought or traded for in the 1950s.

Returned artefacts

Manchester Museum worked with the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies for a period of three years to determine where the artefacts should be relocated.

For the first time, representatives from the museum travelled to the Anindilyakwa people to discuss the return in person.

“Sitting with Elders and hearing them discuss this collection on their land in their terms has enabled me to understand and care in ways not possible in a store room in Manchester, and brought us to a place of understanding together,” said Georgina Young, head of exhibitions and collections at Manchester Museum.

Response

Thomas Amagula, Deputy Chair of the ALC, said the UK museum having returned the artefacts to their original owners would help “protect, maintain, and promote Anindilyakwa culture”.

“We have only just begun to appreciate how valuable the repatriation of the Worsley Collection will be in the future.”

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