Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Qld Premier suggests joining visit to BM

The premier promised to visit the British Museum with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to recover the artefacts. (Supplied: British Museum).

Jemima Burt, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promises to personally accompany First Nations people to British Museum to recover artefacts, ABC News, 11 May 2023

Queensland’s premier has vowed to accompany Traditional Owners to the United Kingdom if they wish to reclaim hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts from the British Museum.

Parliament has been sitting in Cairns this week, and yesterday passed a “watershed bill” to set up a First Nations truth-telling and healing inquiry.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also announced that the government is considering setting up an Indigenous Cultural Centre in Cairns.

The special inquiry, set to run for at least three years, will explore and report on the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Path to Treaty bill also lays the groundwork for treaty-making, creating an institute to support First Nations people to prepare for negotiations.

Indigenous dolls made from wood and string.

Gudju Gudju said thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts are being kept in the basement of the British Museum. (Supplied: British Museum).

At a breakfast event this morning, local Aboriginal leader Seith Fourmile, known as Gudju Gudju, said the thousands of weapons being stored in the British Museum should be returned to Australia.

The museum’s website shows it is in possession of hundreds of clubs, axes, boomerangs, knives, message sticks, canoes and more.

A spokesperson for the British Museum told the ABC that it has “worked extensively” with Indigenous Australians to make the London-based collection “more accessible”.

“The British Museum recognises some objects hold a high cultural significance for contemporary Indigenous Australians,” the spokesperson said.

“Where communities have expressed an interest in having objects on display closer to their originating community, we are always willing to see where we can collaborate to achieve this.

“The museum has undertaken a series of projects to identify the whereabouts of Indigenous Australian objects in museums in the UK and Ireland with the aim of finding and documenting where, how and why certain objects were made, used and collected while improving access to the objects.”

A fire stick made from natural materials.

The museum’s website shows it is in possession of hundreds of clubs, axes, boomerangs, knives, message sticks, canoes and more. (Supplied: British Museum).

The spokesperson said about 600 spears and more than 100 shields from Indigenous groups were included in the collection.

“Objects have entered the collection in a variety of ways since the founding in 1753,” the spokesperson said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the items should be returned to Australia and would be displayed in the Indigenous Cultural Centre if it were to go ahead.

“If we have to go over to the British Museum and get back those artefacts that belong here, I’ll personally come with you,” she said.

“They should not be stored in a British Museum. They should be here on display for everybody to see and be proud of our history.”

Guwamu woman Cheryl Buchanan was heavily involved in the development of the Path to Treaty bill with the Interim Truth and Treaty body.

She said a treaty was long overdue.

“We’re the last of the British colonies to even do treaty,” she said.

“My hope for it is that we move into a place of conciliation that we start to look at how we mend our hearts, how we mend our minds.

“Today’s a celebratory day, it’s a brand new day for us.

“It was worth the fight, it was worth the struggle.”

A fish hook made of iron, twine, gum and cord.

It’s hoped the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts will be displayed in the Indigenous Cultural Centre once recovered. (Supplied: British Museum).

Former Brisbane Lord Mayor and co-chair of the Interim Truth and Treaty body, Sallyanne Atkinson, said the inquiry shows the government is serious about better understanding the past.

“Part of things getting better is to understand how they were in the past and making sure they don’t happen again,” Ms Atkinson said.

“I would like to think that my children or my grandchildren grow up in a different place than from the one that I did, where I knew nothing about, you know, the true history.”

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. No claim is made as to the accuracy or authenticity of the content of the website. The Council of Australasian Museum Directors does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided on this website. The information on our website is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. No responsibility is taken for any information or services which may appear on any linked web sites. Hostgator.