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Thalanyji Ancestral Restitution


The Thalanyji people have successfully reburied ancestoral remains in Onslow. The reburial took place on Friday 18th of April, 2008 and six ancestors were laid to rest back in their homeland. Wangka Maya staff and Committee assisted the WA Museum in the process of restituting these remains from museums and collections around Australia.


These six skeletal remains were part of 77 sets of remains which Wangka Maya has restituted from museums and collections around Australia. Wangka Maya has been able to assist in the reburial of 51 ancestors back to their traditional country. Discussion is still underway with the relevant language groups to see remaining sets of remains reburied with the assistance of the Department of Indigenous Affairs.


This project had taken seven years to accomplish the Thalanyji reburial. Most of the success is due to the dedicated work by Wangka Maya Chairperson Bruce Thomas. Bruce has personally supervised and assisted with each reburial. Bruce was aided by anthropologist Kim Ackerman is the initial stage of recovering and identifying the remains, and then linguists Albert Burgman and Sue Hanson in restituting the remains to the Pilbara and negotiating for their reburial. Bruce continues to work towards the successful reburial of the remaining ancestors.


Other ancestral remains continue to be identified in Australia and overseas and thus the process will be on-going as these ancestors are located and brought home to be laid to rest.