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etched in bone

Australia / 2018 / 73 min / DCP

Director : Martin Thomas & Béatrice Bijon


Jacob Nayinggul, an Aboriginal elder from Arnhem Land in northern Australia, knows that bones of his ancestors were stolen by scientists in 1948. For sixty years they were held by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC as part of a large collection of human anatomy. When, after years of argument, the Smithsonian finally agrees to repatriate the bones, Jacob Nayinggul creates a new form of ceremony. Wrapped in paperbark, the stolen bones–and with them the ancestors’ spirits–are welcomed home and put to sleep in the land where they were born. Using original colour footage from National Geographic, Etched in Bone goes back in time to reveal how the bones were stolen.

Introduced by Martin Thomas & Béatrice Bijon

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