Right Country, Right People!

MEDIA RELEASE - 25 October 2005


In a highly spiritual and emotional final Burial Ceremony over thirty one Ancestors of the Wamba Wamba Peoples were returned to their Country.
The Dead included Children, Women and Men taken by museums and private collectors from their country over the last 150 years.

Garry Murray, Traditional Elder and Chairperson of the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation, conducts the Burial Ceremony for the remains of the Ancestors recovered from various museums.

The Ancestors were recovered from Scotland, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart museums, government agencies, universities and private collectors. The event took place at sundown on private land acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation for the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation the land holding body of the Wamba Wamba Traditional Owners.

Tribal Elders led the Ceremony which included a traditional smoking ceremony and burial customs. Traditional Owners from the Baraparapa, Wadi Wadi, Jupagalk, Dja Dja Wurrung, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Wergaia, and Boonerwurrung.
Several local non-Indigenous community members also attended. A six member delegation from the Italian based Ecospirituality Foundation a recognized Non Government Organisation of the United Nations observed the Ceremony.

The Chairperson of the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation Mr Gary Murray said that; "This emotionally charged Ceremony drives our People to exert our rights to country including the recovery of our Dead and our cultural heritage materials. Our cultural duty and obligations to our Ancestors through our traditions and customs remains unbroken and connects us absolutely to Country and to each other. We will continue to recover our Ancestors whether they be in museums or in private collections. We all have a spiritual, moral, cultural and politico-legal obligation to respect the Dead and everyone in the Community should support us in respecting our Ancestors as we do the non-Indigenous community. Traditional Owners throughout the Region will be organizing other reburials with other Groups over the next three months." Mr Murray said.

Jida Gulpilil-Murray conducts the ritual dances and music that accompany the Burial Ceremony. Jason Tamiru, Clayton Mitchell-Murray and Adam Lampton participate as well.

Mr Murray said that; "Human Remains of our Ancestors are sacrosanct and the trade in and collection of Human Remains and grave goods where there was no informed consent was repugnant to all Aboriginal Peoples and the civilized world. This place where our People are now buried is a sacred place that will be needed to be protected and preserved for all time. The Wamba Wamba Peoples will be seeking to address this legal strategy through the appropriate state or federal permanent protection laws. "

The six member delegation from the Italian based Ecospirituality Foundation a recognized Non Government Organisation of the United Nations participated in the significant Ceremony held to rebury thirty one Women, Children, Men and Old People taken from their sacred graves in Wamba Wamba Country four hundred kilometers north of Melbourne on the New South Wales side of the Murray River.

Giancarlo Barbadoro, the Chairperson of the Ecospirituality Foundation said: "Indigenous Peoples are not dead and forgotten cultures, which are to be placed in a museum showcase. They are live and present Peoples that continue to transmit their traditional cultures and defend their sacred lands, even though the dominant society created by the major religions tend to erase them. The Native Australians, like all Natural Peoples, are bearers of ancestral knowledge that regard the origins of humanity and the subsequent events that have been lost to ordinary memory. This fact, as well as the undisputed right for the manifestation of their traditions, represents another reason for giving space and revaluation to their culture."

Rosalba Nattero, Vice Chairperson Ecospirituality Foundation said: "On every continent there exist Indigenous Peoples that fight for the survival of their traditions. The ceremony that we assisted was a moving example of the strength with which the Native Australians defend their traditions, their culture and their spirituality. For too long a time has the Native Australians traditions and lands been desecrated. I dearly hope that this ceremony is only the beginning of an acknowledgment of the value of the traditions of the Native Australians."

Gary Murray standing before the graves on Wamba Wamba Country where the remains of the Ancestors have been laid to rest.

Gary Murray with Rosalba Nattero and Giancarlo Barbadoro, Observers of the Ecospirituality Foundation.


Members of the Ecospirituality Foundation delegation present at the Ceremony:

ROSALBA NATTERO - Vice Chairperson

The Ceremony was jointly arranged by the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation, North West Region Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Board and Staff, North West Nations Clans Aboriginal Corporation.

Assistance was also provided by Museum Victoria and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.

Use of the photographs by the Media or any other parties requires approval by the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation or the delegated officer.


Wiran Aboriginal Corporation
Mr. Gary Murray
C/0 231 Campbell Street Swan Hill Victoria 3585
Tel.: 50/330 666 - Fax.: 50/330 600 - Mobile: 0409 437 969

Ecospirituality Foundation
Mr. Giancarlo Barbadoro
Tel.: 0039.011.9234.627