Joint Media Release with Minister for the Arts The Hon. Mitch Fifield
Today, the 42,000 year old ancestral remains of Mungo Man and 104 others will be returned to Traditional Owners in a ceremony at Lake Mungo, South Western New South Wales.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said that the historic occasion would be celebrated with a Return to Country Festival in Mildura.
“This is a momentous occasion and an opportunity to celebrate First Australians as part of the world’s oldest continuous culture,” Minister Scullion said.
The remains of Mungo Man were unearthed at Lake Mungo in 1974 by Geologist Dr Jim Bowler in a traditional ochre burial pit. They were then taken to the Australian National University in Canberra.
“The Traditional Owners, the Mutthi Mutthi, Paakantji and Ngyiampaa peoples have long desired the return of their ancestors and I am pleased to see that we have been able to make this a reality.
Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield said that the Mungo Man had been instrumental in increasing understanding of how long ago First Australians lived on the continent.
“As one of oldest remains ever found anywhere in the world, Mungo Man also represents one of the most important contributions to our knowledge of human history on earth and therefore is significant not just to Australia but indeed the entire world.
“I am pleased that the Australian Government can support this important cultural event, to celebrate the remains of Mungo Man returning to their rightful resting place,” Minister Fifield said.
“The Australian Government supports repatriation programs in Australia and internationally to return the ancestral remains of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to country.”
More than 5000 people are expected to pay their respects and celebrate Mungo Man’s return in Mildura this weekend.
Local musicians and dancers will perform alongside nationally recognised headline artists such as Isaiah Firebrace, Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards and Shane Howard.
Australian Government funding for the event will complement support from a successful private crowdfunding campaign, the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, the Healing Foundation and the Mildura Rural City Council.