The Last Outlaws podcast explores the painful issue of stolen ancestral remains. This is a deeply upsetting issue and a living history for Aboriginal people, part of a daily struggle to gain respect and dignity in light of our colonial histories.

Repatriation refers to the return of Indigenous Ancestral Remains which have been held primarily in museums, universities and private collections. It can also be used to refer to the return of cultural objects. 

The deceased are referred to in a number of ways depending upon what is considered appropriate by communities. For example, terms such as Ancestors, Ancestral Remains and Old People are all common in Australia.

Please be aware that this information can cause sadness and anger, and is part of living histories connected to people’s families.

In conversation with Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker

Listen to The Last Outlaws Cultural Consultant and expert in repatriation Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker.

Lyndon is an honorary senior lecturer in the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University. He’s been on the frontlines of the repatriation fight since the 1990’s.

The colonial practice of removing Indigenous remains and sacred objects has caused significant trauma for First Nations people around the world, and it was as recent as the 1970s that Ancestors were being taken from the Kimberleys in Western Australia,  within living memory of Elders today.

Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker assisted The Last Outlaws team in the repatriation efforts of Joe Governor’s ancestral remains.

Here he is in conversation with The Last Outlaws host Kaitlyn Sawrey and producer Frank Lopez at the Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association studio in Darwin. This interview took place in August, 2021.

Additional resources: Dhawura Ngilan: A vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage in Australia and the Best Practice Standards in Indigenous cultural heritage management and legislation 

In Conversation with Professor Daryle Rigney

Professor Daryle Rigney is a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, and is an experienced educator, leader and researcher with more than 30 years in the higher education sector. 

Daryle is currently the Director of the Indigenous Nations and Collaborative Futures Research hub at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS.

He first came to the issue of repatriation as a community member and has since  worked in this space throughout  his career in higher education. Although challenging, the repatriation process can be a healing process providing opportunities for truth telling and reconciliation.

He spoke with The Last Outlaws Executive Producer Emma Lancaster. He also generously provided cultural guidance and advice on scripting for The Last Outlaws podcast.

Additional resources: Return, Reconcile, Renew

In Conversation with Emeritus Professor Paul Turnbull

Emeritus Professor Paul Turnbull is a cultural historian from the University of Tasmania.

He’s been working on the repatriation of ancestors from overseas collections since the 1980’s.

Paul began his career with a doctoral thesis in the field of eighteenth century British intellectual history. He then began to research the history of comparative anatomy and physical anthropology, focusing on the collecting and scientific uses of the bodily remains of Aboriginal people from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. His work has involved close collaboration with Aboriginal communities in Queensland and other parts of Australia. He is interviewed by The Last Outlaws host Kaitlyn Sawrey.

Please be aware this conversation contains information and material about a difficult part of history. The content is sometimes confronting and may cause distress. In order to tell the story of the removal and return of Ancestral Remains, the conversation may reference historical material in relation to Joe Governor’s Ancestral Remains and other Ancestors.

Listeners are advised that there may be words and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive and might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts. Terms from archival material used in this podcast reflect the attitude of the author or the period in which the item was written, and may be considered inappropriate today.

If you find that these conversations have caused you distress, we encourage you to seek support  from friends, family and Elders, your local Aboriginal medical service or a national counselling service such as  Lifeline  on 13 11 14.