The purpose of the visit is not just to officially acknowledge ours and other institutions' involvement in this practice, but to also establish new ground rules for future exhibitions so that curators and museum directors involve the Yolngu people...
The Australian National University (ANU) will join 20 other cultural institutions from around the world in a special reconciliation event with the Indigenous Yolngu people this week to improve communications with them over the display of their artefacts and artworks.
The institutions will meet with the Yolngu people on an island off the central Arnhem Land coast from 11 to 14 August.
As part of the visit, the institutions will work on reaching an agreement with the community that will see them formally acknowledge where the artefacts have originated from and the stories behind them.
The Makarrata, or peace making ceremony, is part of research being conducted by ANU Anthropologist Dr Louise Hamby into Yolngu works in 50 institutions around the world.
"The purpose of the visit is not just to officially acknowledge ours and other institutions' involvement in this practice, but to also establish new ground rules for future exhibitions so that curators and museum directors involve the Yolngu people when exhibiting art and artefacts," Dr Hamby said.
Dr Hamby, a Research Fellow with the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at ANU, said the new procedures will also ensure the stories behind the works are understood when museums are exhibiting them.
"It is also about restoring the knowledge of the once thriving art and craft industry at Milingimbi of which many beautiful artworks came from," she said.
It's the first time leaders of cultural institutions will meet with the Yolngu people.
"The meetings will be about how the institutions are going to use the material. It's a way of looking forward for institutions and Yolngu to deal with their cultural material."
Dr Hamby said it was important for the meetings to take place on country.
"In the past, most conferences and meetings about Aboriginal cultural heritage has not been held on country of the place that it concerns. It's been held in big cities, museums and universities. It is to bring people to meet on Yolngu terms, not western terms," she said.
Until now, there had been little information passed on to the Yolngu people as to where artefacts have been displayed in these institutions, she said.
The Makarrata is part of an Australian Research Council Linkage project, The Legacy of 50 Years Collecting at Milingimbi - a collaboration between Museum Victoria, ANU and the Milingimbi community.
Participants in the forum include representatives from the National Museum of Australia, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the Australian Museum and the Swiss-based Basel Museum.