14 skulls returned from Berlin to Australian Aborigines

Kunst der Aborigines

 One of Europe’s largest university clinics, the 300-year-old Charité in Berlin, Germany, has just returned 14 skulls of Aboriginal people to representatives of the Goemulgal, Lag Mabuyag and Wajarri Yamatji peoples. Already in April last year the Charité returned skulls and other bones of 33 Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders the Institution had received at the end of the 19th century. That was the first repatriation of its kind of ancestral remains from Germany.


The skulls were packed singly in boxes and during a handover ceremony stood in a lecture hall. The boxes were covered by various indigenous flags, reported a Berlin newspaper.


Representatives of the Australian government and ministries as well as the embassy attended the ceremony. The Aborigines took possession of the remains of their ancestors as “traditional owners”.


The skulls came to Berlin between 1882 and 1897, one of them from Western Australia. It is believed to have been dug up by a German engineer on an expedition and went to the Berlin university via the anatomist Wilhelm Krause. Krause frequently visited academics in Australia to grow his collection of skulls. The German researcher, Otto Finsch (1839-1917), dug up the other 13 skulls in northern Australia and kept them.


"At that time there was interest in skulls from all over the world to classify them,” explained Andreas Winkelmann, anatomy teaching coordinator and leader of a project to research the origins of the remains. He noted that researchers were especially interested in the Aboriginal skulls because it was thought that they were primitive and destined for extinction. To make statistical determinations they had needed many skulls.


The origins of the remains were determined from old documents and partly from writing on the bones. "It’s always like working out a puzzle to find out the precise location of the find,” said Winkelmann.


Nowadays the skulls are hardly relevant to research, said Winkelmann, they had been collected for purposes no longer pursued. Moreover, he noted, it was part of Aboriginal culture to be buried in one’s home soil. He said the Charité valued this wish higher than scientific interest.


Charité board chairman, Karl Max Einhäupl, stated at the ceremony: "It is an important obligation for the Charité to return to the traditional owners the human remains once collected supposedly in the name of scientific research and thereby to support the repatriation process.”


In 2008 the Charité became the first German scientific Institution to sign an agreement with Australia to hand over the remains.


So far human remains from anthropological collections were handed back to countries of origin five times. As well as Australia in 2013 and 2014 they went home to Namibia (2011 and 2014) and Paraguay (2012).


The Charité ranks with the biggest European university clinics. It has spawned more than half the German Nobel Prize winners. Doctors and other scientists research, heal and teach there at top international level.


For more on the repatriation of Aboriginal remains go here: http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/aboriginal-rema...



Go here for more on the repatriation of Aboriginal remains.     

The Charité possesses 7,000 skulls from various periods and regions. Its “Human Remains Project“ is to “collect reliable information about the origin and acquisition context of the collection pieces” and to process the “collection and collector history in its scientific and colonial historic contexts”.

Supported by the largely government-funded German Research Foundation a study is to examine the large anthropological skull and skeleton collections, some of which were made in colonial times. The Charité has worked on the history of its collections since 2010.

So far not enough was known about its own collections to respond even somewhat adequately to restitution demands, such as those made e.g. by Namibia in 2008, but also those from Australia and New Zealand still on the table.  Thomas Schnalke, director of the Medical History Museum, said when presenting the project: “Science and research have accumulated guilt.“ He asked for forgiveness.

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ABC Online
Fears suicide becoming 'normal' in Indigenous communities

Posted Thu 24 Jul 2014, 2:04pm AEST

A leading Aboriginal suicide prevention advocate says she is concerned suicide is being normalised in Indigenous communities.

Last night, Suicide Prevention Australia honoured Kimberley woman Adele Cox for excellence in her field.

Ms Cox has worked with government bodies and community programs which attempt to reduce the rates of Indigenous suicide.

She says the extremely high suicide rates in some Aboriginal communities, which in some areas are 20 times above the national average, are making suicide seem like a normal option.

"We're trying to prevent and trying to work so it doesn't become normal," she said.

"The work we do has to continue, so we work with communities and individuals and families so that suicide never becomes an option."

She says the high prevalence of suicide is a major social problem which needs to be fixed.

"The number of suicides we have in our communities is starting to lean towards a lot of community members having some anxiety about suicide and its actions being normalised and being an option," she said.


July 25, 2014

Michael Mansell

It is not clear what benefits Aborigines will get from constitutional recognition or why time is being spent on it. After all, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia have already recognised indigenous people in their state constitutions and the Federal Parliament passed the Act of Recognition in 2013. Not a single benefit to anyone has flowed from those measures.

One of the bewildering proposals for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples is to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as the original Australian languages, but confirm English as the official national language. This is reminiscent of the military government in Sudan in the 1960s that declared Arabic would be the official single language despite the many languages spoken. Aboriginal languages are the most threatened in the world and the proposed constitutional declaration would sound the death-knell of those that remain.

Another proposal is to delete section 25 of the constitution - which recognises that the states can ban people from voting based on their race - is on its face racist but which was originally installed to punish racist states. It has never been used in 114 years, is never likely to be used, and even if it was, any law made under it would be struck down as contrary to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

A third proposal is to limit the Federal Parliament to only make positive laws for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders by changing the word ‘'race'’ power to ‘'Aboriginal'’. The High Court is then to judge if a law is good or bad for Aborigines. This will not work. The court has stated time and again that it is for the parliament to make the laws, and the courts to interpret those laws. Whether parliaments are making good or bad policy is up to the electorate, not judges. 

If the race power is to be tampered with, it should be done properly. After 226 years Aboriginal people are still prevented from making their own decisions. The Recognition proposal condones that immoral position.

Why not declare self-determination a constitutional right? After all, the Ethiopian constitution of 1994 provides in article 39 that ‘'Every nation, nationality or people in Ethiopia shall have the unrestricted right to self determination up to secession'’. Is Australia not willing to catch up after Ethiopia, 20 years later? Such an insertion in the constitution provides a standard against which Australian government policy can be considered and allows for Aborigines to sue for its breach. 

Recognition is supposed to deliver benefits to Aborigines yet the beneficiaries are denied the chance to have a say. Public meetings on recognition have been held around Australia without a single meeting to hear Aboriginal opinion. If Aborigines had a say they would call for legislative action, not constitutional tampering. Legislation is quicker, more predictable and cheaper. Whereas Federal Parliament can create instant law, parliamentary support for a referendum does not guarantee the outcome. With 36 of 44 referendums rejected since federation, a ‘'no'’ vote is more than on the cards.

None of the recognition proposals confer any right on Aborigines to sue, nor do they impose any obligation on government to act. If Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to be constructive and practical, change the date of Australia Day from January 26. The only significance of the date is that it marks the arrival of whites to the detriment of indigenous peoples, making the celebrations race-based. Hardly appropriate for a national day.

As Gary Foley said: “Who gives a damn about whether we’re mentioned in the Australian Constitution. What real difference will it make? It’s a grand token gesture and will mean nothing in the long run, so it’s a waste of time for people to be even talking about it”.

Michael Mansell is a an Aboriginal lawyer from Tasmania.

One in 10 Australians have admitted they would tell a joke about an Indigenous Australian and one in five would avoid sitting next to an Aboriginal person on public transport, new research shows.


An Australian-first campaign, the Invisible Discriminator, has been launched to highlight the psychological effect that subtle racism has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and reduce discrimination.


The organisation running the campaign says subtle acts of discrimination, negative stereotypes, racist jokes or making insensitive or offensive comments still impact on the lives and well being of Indigenous Australians.


The campaign will broadcast ads of non-Indigenous Australians engaging in these types of acts.


The organisers found that up to four out of five Indigenous people regularly experience racism and almost one third experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, which causes anxiety and depression.


A survey of more than 1,000 non-Indigenous Australians found nearly half believe Indigenous Australians are given unfair advantages by the government, more than a third believed they 'are sometimes a bit lazy' and many think it's acceptable to discriminate.


For the full story go to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2709148/Half-Australians-racist-Aborigines-one-five-away-public-transport.html.



Ray Jackson, president of the Sydney-based Indigenous Social Justice Association, commented: "in my opinion the figures are very much understated. 


the bus/train seat example has happened  a few times over the years but i have seen that phenomena several times for aborigines who are much darker than i, and even to africans, maori, pacific islanders. why me when visually i have no perceptible aboriginal features i can only assume that as i wear my 'isms' on my cap they do recognise me as perhaps a danger to them. the same happens from time to time in supermarkets, shopping centres, etc.  


it has lost any 'black' (no pun intended) humour and is now just seen as the racial profiling that it is. 


i have stated for many years that of the non-aboriginal and torres strait islander population we can say that about one third of those do have some level of understanding and support for our issues. the other two thirds range from those who don't care as long as it does impinge upon their lifestyle to those who are active racists and to those who really think they own this country of aboriginal nations. 


racism, as we know, is endemic to what we call 'white australia' as a constitutional matter, a racist law and an overpowering and still constant dark cloud over how our collective society is managed. flashes of sunshine have occurred but only by governments of sound and moral mind that is sadly lacking in our previous governments going back to, and including, the hawke administration. 


our present federal government has no leadership ambitions in this area except to make the society worse. that is why senator george brandis is weakening the anti-discrimination law and especially clause 18c. the weakening of this clause and law is aimed specifically against people of colour in this country. the legitimate asylum seekers are also included as they are publicly vilified on a daily basis by the verbal vomit and the abbott/morrison spin doctors. this government has broken the agreements of the un declaration on refugees that we are open to righteous condemnation from most of the world. not in my name! never! ever! 


instead of religious training in the schools whereby each sect argues their own case we need our children and youth to learn ethics in all its forms and that would include the need for the battle against racism. and xenophobia. and more on love and acceptance.”

Verfasst von: Nuclear Worrier. Verfasst am: Do, 31.07.2014 - 07:02.    


New Matilda


30 Jul 2014


Four Metre Brass Racist Unveiled In Alice Springs Park


By Max Chalmers




A statue in Alice Springs has been erected despite causing deep upset among the Aboriginal


community. Max Chalmers reports.






It's a bizarre, four-year-long saga that has brought racial tensions in Alice Springs to the surface


and may cause members of the local council to think twice next time they are approached by


Freemasons bearing gifts.




A sculpture of Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart has finally been erected in the central


Australian town after initially being unveiled, then un-unveiled, in 2010, when it was gifted by the


local Freemasons Lodge to commemorate 150 years since Stuart first reached the area now


occupied by Alice Springs.




Revealed with some pomp and ceremony, the work was quickly moved into storage after


concerns were raised that the council had not followed proper procedure for public art and


complaints from local Aboriginal people.




Alison Furber, an Arrernte woman and artist who lives in Alice Springs, told New Matilda those


concerns had not faded.




"We're very unhappy with that statue being erected," she said.




While Furber suggested Aboriginal icons such as Charlie Perkins or Albert Namatjira would have


made better subjects for a public work, it's the precise depiction of Stuart which has provoked her


and other Aboriginal people to raise their voices.


Full story at  https://www.newmatilda.com/2014/07/30/four-metre-brass-racist-unveiled-alice-springs-park

ABC Indigenous News

Martu people welcome uranium development


By Ebonnie Spriggs and Lucie Bell


Updated July 29, 2014 18:36:59


Representatives of traditional owners in the East Pilbara have welcomed environmental approval

for a proposed uranium mine and condemned a bid by a conservation group to appeal against the



The Martu people signed a land-use deal with Cameco Australia in 2012, allowing the company to

develop its Kintyre mine, north-east of Newman.


The project was granted conditional approval on Monday by the Environmental Protection

Authority (EPA) and the decision was now open to public comment for two weeks.


Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) negotiated on behalf of the Martu with



Corporation chief executive Noel Whitehead said the decision to support Kintyre was not taken



"Martu people are not going to sell their heritage for a mine," he said.


"Martu people are not going to sell their environment or their culture for a mine.


"In this instance they have considered every aspect of it and subject to the various regulatory

approvals they support the mine."


For the full story go to http://tinyurl.com/ks6pwfc

July 30th, 2014


Western desert-living Martu Elder, Thelma Rawlins said that many of her people remain opposed

to the "go-aheads" given to uranium mining on Martu Country.




"This is really bad stuff in the ground, and it will be really bad stuff if it comes above the ground. We are getting too close to bad stuff happening," said Ms Rawlins. 

"Country will be made bad, our water made bad. Our water is salty, the river bed is salty. We have to be careful with our water. The uranium out of ground will take our water away." 

But Western Australia's controversial Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given the thumbs up for the CAMECO company proposal to mine uranium on Martu Country, at Kintyre which is next to the significant waterways of Kalmilyi National Park in the Pilbara. The EPA has been the subject of one controversy after another and most recently with the now defunct James Price Gas Hub proposal in the Kimberley where it had also have given the thumbs up despite widespread public opposition. 

Two prospective uranium mine sites in Western Australia are nearing the likelihood of becoming operational in the next couple of years, both near Aboriginal communities - the other uranium site is near Wiluna and Toro Energy may have it operational by the end of next year. By the end of the

century Western Australia will be transformed into one of the world's largest uranium miners according to insiders in the industry. Western Australia is rich in easily accessible high grade uranium.


Full story at http://thestringer.com.au/do-the-martu-peoples-want-uranium-mining/#.U9l6CUZ1X1I