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A watercolour painting of Yagan's preserved head by George Cruikshank, dating to 1834 (National Library of Australia).

Warrior reburied 170 years after death

  • BY AAP with AG Staff |
  • July 12, 2010

The remains of an Aboriginal warrior, displayed in a UK museum for many years, have finally been laid to rest in Western Australia.

THE REMAINS OF THE 19th century Aboriginal warrior Yagan have finally been laid to rest in a ceremony near Perth. More than 170 years after his death, a private traditional Noongar ceremony was held in the Swan Valley on Saturday to bury them.

The head of Yagan, leader of the Noongar people of southwest Western Australia, was exhumed from a northwest England cemetery and returned to Australia in 1997.

Yagan was shot by a European settler on 11 July 1833. His body was buried and his severed head transported to London, where it sat in a museum for more than a century before being buried in Liverpool.

Long campaign

Saturday's burial coincided with the opening of the Yagan Memorial Park after a long campaign by the Noongar people to reunite the head of the warrior with his body, which is believed to have been buried at the site in Belhus, the WA government said.

"The Yagan Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the life, struggles and death of Yagan and to the memory of all Aboriginal people who suffered and died in support of their land, culture and heritage," West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said in a statement.

The head was returned to Australia after a delegation of Aboriginal people travelled to the UK to collect it in 1997. Yagan Reburial Committee chairman Richard Wilkes said it had been a long process. "We are all proud that Yagan will be buried with dignity," he told the ABC.
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