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Museum returns 174 artefacts to Indigenous Australians

Words by Abi Scaife

Manchester Museum is returning a huge number of artefacts to Indigenous people.

Great! Tell me more.

Manchester Museum is returning 174 items to Indigenous Australian islanders. While the repatriation of stolen artefacts is, thankfully, becoming more common, it is often reserved for items of cultural significance, or that are sacred to religion.

Manchester Museum is making history by returning not only important items but those that are every day - including baskets, dolls, fishing spears and more. The items will be sent back to the Anindilyakwa community, who live off the northern coast of Australia.

What else?

It is hoped that this return will not only strengthen the ties that the Anidilyakwa community have to their past, and to teach younger generations about those who came before them, but encourage other museums to do the same.

“We believe this is the future of museums,” said Esme Ward, the director of Manchester Museum. “This is how we should be.”

Many artefacts, particularly those from indigenous communities, were taken under devastating circumstances - and it is great news that museums are beginning to make reparations for the atrocities of the past. This will surely lead to a better, more just and respectful future.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Windrush Foundation. This is a registered charity that designs and delivers heritage projects, programmes and initiatives which highlight African and Caribbean peoples’ contributions to the UK. Learn more here.

Race Equality Foundation. A national charity tackling racial equality in public services. Find out more here.

SARI. Stand Against Racism and Inequality is a charity that provides free and confidential support for anyone who is a victim of hate crime across Avon and Somerset. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs