Will Anderson over at The Assemblage was kind enough to point out the decision by the South Australian government to possibly halt an auction. An Australian news outlet, ABC News Online is reporting that the South Australian Government is considering halting the auction of a breastplate recently discovered by two brothers. It was estimated to bring half a million dollars (aus.) at auction. The object may have been presented to Aborigines in 1863 who helped the explorers Burke and Wills. Wikipedia has a nice overview of that expedition here. Let’s just say despite grand ambitions to cross the continent, it did not end well.
The Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill may attempt to acquire the brass plate under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA), which is available here. I’m not very familiar with it, but it seems the Minister may elect to purchase the object, or even seize it if a crime has been committed.
It’s a bit of a curious action here in that it is protecting a gift which the newly-arrived explorers gave to the aborigines who helped them. Most protections of this kind would seem to protect the creations of the indigenous groups, and not gifts given to them by the new European explorers. It’s a different way of thinking about an antiquity I think, and challenges what we might consider to be heritage.