Thanks to Will Anderson and Dave Phoenix for pointing this one out for me. South Australia’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill has barred a ceremonial breastplate linked to the Burke and Wills expedition from sale. An earlier post is here, and there are some very good comments by folks who know a great deal more about Aboriginal Heritage than I do.
Minister Weatherill will now undertake an investigation to determine the rightful owners of the breastplate. The sale was banned under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA). As Weatherill said, “This breastplate is a significant piece of our shared Australian history… It is one of the earliest symbols of reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.”
The object was due to be auctioned today, but it has been declared an object of Aboriginal significance. Had it gone to auction, some estimate it would have sold for up to $200,000 Australian. It is an interesting situation in that the object was a gift to aborigines for helping the expedition, yet is still deemed a piece of aboriginal heritage. It think the Minister made the correct decision here, as the breastplate was an early effort at aboriginal reconciliation.