As part of National Reconciliation Week, the National film and Sound Archive is screening the documentary Etched in Bone and following the screening, there will be a Q&A session with the directors Martin Thomas, and Béatrice Bijon.
This 73 minute documentary was made over a period of eight years and examines the theft of the remains of Aboriginal community elders in Arnhem Land by the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948. Following their removal from their resting place, the human remains were taken to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
In the 1990s, the US introduced laws that required the Smithsonian to release human remains to Native Americans, but exhibitions featuring Indigenous Remains from other countries, including Australian, were exempt. This sparked a battle between the Smithsonian Institute and the Aboriginal elders.
The documentary gives extraordinary insight into the theft of Aboriginal remains from Australia and the lengths required to go to, in order to return them to their final resting places. As such, it is a fitting selection for National Reconciliation Week.