Banes sent hame tae rist in peice


The Naitral Historie Museum (NHM) in London haes greed efter a lang campaign bi the indigenous indwallers o the Torres Strait Eylands in Australia tae gie back the skelets an banes o 141 eylanders.   The bouks wis taen frae thair buirial steids bi European explorers, meissiounaries an anthropologists ower the bygane twa hunner yeir, maist aft wi nae permeissioun or greeance frae local fowk.  Maist o the banes endit up in museums or in the hauns o privat collectours.

The banes heild bi the NHM cam frae a weim on the eyland o Pulu at is sacrit ti the Mabiuag fowk.  The remains wis taen awaa an sellt bi a meissionarie teacher efter the communitie convertit ti Christianitie.  The Museum bocht thaim frae a traffecker in 1884.
The Torres Strait Eylanders trews at, bi the wey o thair tradeiciounal releigioun, the sowels o thair forefaithers wull no kin finn peice onless thae is pit tae rist in thair ain hame grunn whaur thair speirits steys connectit ti the yird an the local communitie.  The thocht at the bouks o thair auld grannies an granfaithers wis weid awaa ti boxes an presses in cauld biggins in a furren kintra wis gey ugsome ti the eylanders.  

Scientists grees at the banes wis steilt, an at human bouks maun ey be traitit wi gret respeck, but pynts out at DNA frae the banes an exack metts o thair syzes an proporciouns haes luit scientists discover a muckle anent the oreigins an spreid o the modren human species.  

Unner the greeance atwein the Museum and the Torres Straits Eylanders, the museum howps the banes wull stey accessible fur studie.  Offeicials frae the museum is nou in talks wi the eylanders on hou an whan tae haun ower the banes.  As pairt o the greeance, a Torres Strait Eylander wull be gied a placement wi the museum fur tae skair scienteific an museum airts wi the NHM.

Fur the Eylanders, communitie spaiksman Ned Davis sayed: “This decision has been received with much emotion and is considered as a breakthrough in overseas collecting institutions recognizing the importance of laying the spirits of our ancestors to rest.”

Richard Lane, directour o science at the NHM, sayed: “’We are pleased that through dialogue and mutual respect our team has been able to work closely with the Torres Strait Islands community, demonstrating for the first time in the UK a new way of approaching repatriation claims in what has previously been a hugely polarised debate.”

The NHM hauds aroun 20,000 human remains in hits colleccioun nouadays, juist unner hauf frae outbye the UK.  Up tae juist recentlie, the museum rejectit aa an onie claims at human remains wis tae be gied back, but Lane says the NHM is nou in the airlie stages o repatriacioun claims wi a whein indigenous communities in Australia an ither kintras.  The repatriacioun o the Torres Straits banes is the lairgest claim at haes bene settilt up ti nou.

In 2009, the Hunterian Museum in Glesga gied back fower toi moko – tattoued Maori heids – ti Maori fowk in New Zealand.  The heids wis donatit ti the museum in 1886 bi Glesga man Thomas Steel at haed got thaim whan he wis warkin fur the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Auckland.  In thon tymes ther wis an active tredd in tattoued Maori heids taen frae native graveyairds.  In 2010 the Museum gied back the skulls o three Australian Aboriginals ti thair trybes.

Ither cultural airtefacks wis gied back bi the museum an aa.  The Glesga Museum haes heidit the wey in the repatriacioun o native artefacks taen unjuistlie frae thair oreiginal awners.  In 1999 the Museum gied back a sacrit Gaist Dance Sark ti the Lakota fowk o the USA.  Bi settin sic a guid exaimple Scots museums kin richtlie caa fur the return ti Scotland o Scots cultural airtefacks at ither museums hauds, lik the Lewis Chessmen.  

Wurds ye mibbie no ken

gree – to agree
greeance – agreement
indwaller – inhabitant
bouk – dead body, corpse, carcass
bygane – past, previous
weim – cave
trew – believe
weid awaa – carried off, removed (especially through death or misfortune)
press – storage cupboard
ugsome – disgusting, repulsive
mett – measurement
skair – share