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Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, History, Culture, Museums & exhibitions, News

Outrage over Uluṟu (Ayers Rock) stripper

From Telegraph:

Climbers at Uluru ignore warning signs at their peril. Photo by en:User:Lee M, May 18, 1998

Alizee Sery, 25, climbed the red sandstone monolith in conventional dress but then stripped at the top to a white bikini, white high-heeled boots and a bushman’s hat.

The images outraged local Aborigines, who regard it as a sacred site and object to tourists climbing it.

Aborigines also object to photos being taken of the areas of the rock, which they call Uluru.

Sery said she had not intended to offend Aboriginal culture with her “strip show”.

“What we need to remember is that traditionally, the Aboriginal people were living naked, so stripping down was a return to what it was like,” she said. “I do not mean in any way for this to offend the Aboriginal culture.”

David Ross, director of the Central Land Council which represents the traditional owners of and the surrounding national park, said the woman was a French tourist and should be deported.

“Too often Uluru is used as a place for individuals to pursue some questionable personal development activities at the expense of Aboriginal law and culture,” he said.

Northern Territory Police said they were unaware of the incident and immigration department officials said they were not able to comment. The singer’s behaviour could constitute a minor offence of disorderly conduct.

Filed under: Heritage, Human Rights, , , , , , , , ,

France votes to return Maori heads to New Zealand

Tukukino, an old fighting chief of the Ngāti Tamaterā people of the Hauraki district, North Island, New Zealand, circa 1880

The French parliament has voted to return the mummified heads of at least 15 Maori warriors to New Zealand.

The heads, taken by European explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries, are currently on display in several museums in France.

The decision ends years of debate and is part of a wider discussion in the US and Europe on the restitution of artefacts taken centuries earlier.

The Maoris believed the preservation of the heads kept their spirits alive.

But they became exotic collector items in Europe in the 19th Century, with museum officials saying some men may have been killed for their tattoos.

MPs in France almost unanimously backed the bill to return the tattooed heads, some still with bits of hair and teeth attached, back to their home country.

It is the first time that French legislation has allowed an entire division of museum artefacts to be returned.

Catherine Morin-Desailly, the MP who proposed the bill, said it showed France’s commitment to human rights.

“There are some things which are above art and which should remain sacred,” she told Associated Press.

New Zealand first requested their return in the 1980s but the issue became more prominent in France in 2007 after a city council voted for one head to be sent back.

The decision was later overturned by the French Ministry of Culture, which ruled such a decision could not be taken at local level.

Critics had voiced concerns it might set a new precedent, putting other collections at risk.

Pita Sharples, the New Zealand minister for Maori affairs, said the decision was a “matter of great significance”.

“Maori believe that, through their ancestors’ return to their original homeland, their dignity is restored, and they can be put to rest in a peace among their families,” he said.

The heads will be sent to the Te Papa museum in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, and then returned to tribal groups to be buried.

From BBC

Filed under: Heritage, Human Rights, , , , , ,

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