telegraph - Prince William will visit Australia for three days next week, after an official trip to New Zealand. It will be the first time the Prince has set foot in Australia since visiting as a baby with his parents in 1983.
Elder Michael Mundine of the Aboriginal Housing Company said he believed the Prince “has his mother’s heart” and would understand his request to recover the remains of the warrior Pemulwuy.
Pemulwuy was shot dead in 1802, 14 years after the arrival of the First Fleet, and his head was sent to England in a glass jar.
Many believe the head is still in England with the remains of an estimated 3000 indigenous people whose body parts were bottled in the name of scientific research. However, the exact location of the jar and its contents remains a mystery.
When it first arrived in England, the skull was reportedly kept at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, and later may have been moved to the Natural History Museum. However, the museum has no record of it.
Now, Aboriginal leaders want to recover his remains, and the remains of other aborigines killed and collected by the British during colonisation, so that they can be given a proper burial in their native country.
“He is from a different generation and, because he is young, I think he will understand that Pemulwuy needs to come home to his lands,” Mr Mundine, who is one of five indigenous people chosen to meet the Prince next week, told The Australian newspaper.
The return of Aboriginal remains is an important issue for indigenous Australians who are lobbying British museums for their repatriation.
Rob Welsh, who chairs the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, said he was concerned about “the remains of all our ancestors”.
Mr Welsh, said he, too, believed the late Princess Diana had raised her son “to be respectful, and to understand what is important to our people”.
Pemulwuy, who was born around 1750, opposed the British settlement and was described by Sydney’s then Governor Philip King as “a terrible pest to the colony” but also “a brave and independent character”.
He was one of the Eora people, whose land – now known as the suburb of Botany Bay in Sydney’s south – was directly affected by the arrival of the British. In response, Pemulwuy fiercely resisted, using fire to destroy crops and animals and regularly mounting raids on early settlements.
Referred to as “the rainbow warrior” because of his brightly coloured clothes, he had more than 100 followers and at one point was accused of spearing Governor Arthur Phillip’s gamekeeper. But his exploits incurred the wrath of the British, and he was shot dead on the orders of Governor Philip King in 1802.
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, King wrote to Joseph Banks in London: “Understanding that the possession of a New Hollander’s head is among the desiderata, I have put it in spirits and forwarded it by the Speedy”, but the head has not been found in an English repository of Aboriginal remains.
Some believe Pemulwuy’s skull was bottled and returned to Australia in 1950, and then lost.
But most, including Mr Mundine and Mr Welsh, believe the warrior’s head is still in England, alongside the remains of many other indigenous people.
During two days in Sydney, the Prince’s itinerary includes visits to an Aboriginal community centre and an Australian army base.
On the tour’s last day in Melbourne on Thursday, the prince will be visiting nearby rural areas devastated by fire in February last year in Australia’s worst natural disaster of modern times.
ABORIGINAL WARRIOR, PEMULWUY
PEMULWUY (c.1750–1802), Aboriginal warrior, was born near what was later named Botany Bay, on the northern side of the Georges River, New South Wales. His name (also spelt as Pemulwhy, Pemulwoy or other variations) was derived from the Darug (Dharug) word pemul, meaning earth. Europeans also rendered his name as 'Bimblewove' and 'Bumbleway'. He spoke a dialect of the Darug language and had a blemish in his left eye. According to Colebe, his left foot had been clubbed, suggesting he was a carradhy (clever man). In December 1790 Pemulwuy speared John McIntyre, Governor Phillip's gamekeeper, who later died of the wound. The spear was barbed with small pieces of red stone, confirming that Pemulwuy belonged to one of the 'woods tribes' or Bediagal (Bidjigal) clan. A bungled retaliatory expedition failed to find any Aborigines.
From 1792 Pemulwuy led raids on settlers at Prospect, Toongabbie, Georges River, Parramatta, Brickfield Hill and the Hawkesbury River. In December next year David Collins reported an attack by Aborigines who 'were of the Hunter's or Woodman's tribe, people who seldom came among us, and who consequently were little known'. He also reported that 'Pe-mul-wy, a wood native, and many strangers, came in' to an initiation ceremony held at yoo-lahng (Farm Cove) on 25 January 1795. Collins thought him 'a most active enemy to the settlers, plundering them of their property, and endangering their personal safety'. Raids were made for food, particularly corn, or as 'payback' for atrocities: Collins suggested that most of the attacks were the result of the settlers' 'own misconduct', including the kidnapping of Aboriginal children.
To check at once 'these dangerous depredators', military force was used against Pemulwuy and his people. Captain Paterson directed that soldiers be sent from Parramatta, with instructions to destroy 'as many as they could meet' of the Bediagal. In March 1797 Pemulwuy led a raid on the government farm at Toongabbie. Settlers formed a punitive party and tracked him to the outskirts of Parramatta. He was wounded (by John Caesar), receiving seven pieces of buckshot in his head and body. Extremely ill, he was taken to the hospital. Yet, late in April that year when the governor met several parties of natives near Botany Bay Pemulwuy was among them. Having 'perfectly recovered from his wounds', he had 'escaped from the hospital with an iron about his leg. He saw and spoke with one of the gentlemen of the party; enquiring of him whether the governor was angry, and seemed pleased at being told that he was not'.
Pemulwuy's close escapes resulted in the Darug believing that firearms could not kill him. In Collins's words: 'Through this fancied security, he was said to be at the head of every party that attacked the maize grounds'. On 1 May 1801 Governor King issued a government and general order that Aborigines near Parramatta, Georges River and Prospect could be shot on sight, and in November a proclamation outlawed Pemulwuy and offered a reward for his death or capture.
Pemulwuy was shot dead about 1 June 1802 by Henry Hacking. George Suttor described the subsequent events: 'his head was cut off, which was, I believe, sent to England'. On 5 June King wrote to Sir Joseph Banks that although he regarded Pemulwuy as 'a terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character'. He further wrote: 'Understanding that the possession of a New Hollander's head is among the desiderata, I have put it in spirits and forwarded it by the Speedy'. The head has not been found in an English repository to date.
Source - Pemulwuy (c. 1750 - 1802)
Send us an email
Go to Phantoms and Monsters - NetworkBlogs and sign up
Click here for this week's entertaining podcast
Add 'Beyond The Edge' Radio to your playlist!