The remains of 70 Aboriginal Australians have been exhumed from the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Fitzroy Crossing WA as the river continues to erode the site. The names of those buried in the cemetery are known, but fewer than 20 remains have been individually identified.
The Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) has been running the project to save the remains. KALACC requested NCIG to collect DNA from the unidentified remains and take it into safekeeping. In the future, funds permitting, the DNA from the remains can be compared with DNA from families. This will allow the new graves to be properly named, and even for remains to be returned to Country if that is the wish of the family.
NCIG has sent Azure Hermes, Indigenous Community Engagement Coordinator, and Alice McCarthy, Research Assistant, and recruited the services of ancient DNA specialist Dr Bastien Llamas from the University of Adelaide, to do the sample extraction. Our team will be interviewed by ABC TV whilst in Fitzroy Crossing. After completing their part, our team will stay in the community to represent NCIG and the ANU at the reburial ceremonies on 16 August 2018.