Ancestors repatriated by Kaurna community at Wangayarta

Members of the Kaurna community and supporters have gathered at Wangayarta, the Kaurna memorial at Smithfield Memorial Park, to lay Ancestors to rest in a community-led reburial on December 13.

During the ceremony, Ancestors were returned from disturbed burial sites in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide, which had been held under the custodianship of the South Australian museum since the late 1800s and into the 20th century.

The repatriation followed historic reburials in December 2021 and June 2022, utilising a pioneering Kaurna method to return Ancestors from the custodianship of museums and universities more-widely.

Kaurna Elder Aunty Madge Wanganeen worked with the South Australian Museum for the repatriation and described the process as both an “overwhelming and beautiful” experience.“

At times when I do the wrapping it becomes overwhelming, but it’s extended now into the community,” Aunty Madge said.“

The journey has been hard for us Kaurna people, so it’s important to know we’re being recognised – Wangayarta brings us to everybody.”

Wangayarta is a collaboration between Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation (KYAC), South Australian Museum, Adelaide Cemeteries and Department of Premier and Cabinet Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.

The latest Aboriginal Way podcast, available via the Spotify link above, contains on-site interviews and recordings of speeches made during the recent repatriation at Wangayarta.