International support is growing for the repatriation of stolen Australian artefacts being kept in European museums.
My dream is to walk into our own museum where when you look at something you get the full story told by a museum guide.Rodney "Murrum" Kelly
In 2017, during his third trip to Europe, Bermagui's Rodney "Murrum" Kelly began repatriation efforts with the Swedish Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm after becoming the first member of the Gweagal clan in almost 250 years to touch a spear being kept in a storage room.
The Uralic speaking Saami people, who inhabit parts of Norway, Sweden, northern Finland, and Russia's Murmansk Oblast on the Kola Peninsula, have thrown their support behind the return of the artefact.
"The return of indigenous items and remains are demands that have been raised by indigenous peoples worldwide in pace with an increased political awareness and demands for self-determination," head of the Saami Council's cultural unit Christina Haetta said in the letter to Swedish National Museums of World Culture director general Ann Follin.
"It is a growing issue with connections to international and international law that the Varldskulturs museerna etnografiska (ethnographic museum) should respect."
Ms Haetta said the Saami people are also also attempting to have items returned.
"We as indigenous peoples have the right to our past and to our ancestors. But it is also about reconciliation," Ms Haetta said.
"No one can undo what has been done, but everyone can do their part in making sure not to reproduce or prolong past wrongdoings.
"Nation states should acknowledge their responsibility in historical injustices and return what was stolen."
Early last century Swedish ethnographer Eric Mjoberg desecrated numerous sacred burial grounds during two trips to Australia, smuggling body parts back to Europe.
"The raiding of the grave occurred despite protests from the indigenous people, the Aborigines, and in violation of Australian laws," the Swedish museum's website states.
During his second trip in 1911 Mjoberg visited Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, smuggling remains from each state, which included a Djiringanj skull stolen from Cuttagee near Bermagui.
In 2004, Wallaga Lake Elder Uncle Warren Foster visited Stockholm with Kimberley Elder Uncle Peter Francis to return body parts and skulls taken by Mjoberg, who has been dubbed the "skeleton collector" by the museum.
"It felt amazing knowing we were a part of the repatriation of all the old people, and feeling proud we brought them back home," Mr Foster said this week.
"My views are all the artefacts and stuff that were stolen from Country need to be returned back."
Mr Kelly said he has had some interest from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in storing the spear once it is returned, and before it is handed to traditional owners for display.
The institute said it will work alongside the Swedish museum, and "provide data logs for the temperature and relative humidity of the storage vault to be used to house the spear".
The said the spear would be "boxed in archival corrugated cardboard and placed horizontally on a static shelf in a temperature and humidity controlled vault".
"My dream is to walk into our own museum where when you look at something you get the full story told by a museum guide," Mr Kelly said.
"It will be a place where so much can happen, like holding all the thousands of artefacts and human remains from overseas before they are returned to country, and become a place where we can train all our own historians and anthropologist."
Mr Kelly will return to the United Kingdom later this month where he has been promised he will have an opportunity to hold a Gweagal shield being housed in the British Museum.
Through his mother's family, Mr Kelly is a direct descendant of a Gweagal warrior known as Cooman, who was shot in the leg by Cook's marines as they approached the shore.
During his next visit he will also be allowed inside the museum's East London storage facility to view other Australian artefacts in their collection, give a number of lectures at venues in the city, including the Queen Mary University of London.
Hosted by the the Colonial Spaces, Colonial Power research network, the workshop titled Captain Cook, Colonial Theft and British Museums: Returning the Gweagal Shield and Spears will also feature the university's honorary senior research fellow Rosalind Carr, and University of London school of law faculty member Sarah Keenan.
In 2016, the museum stalled on discussions to repatriate the shield and numerous fishing spears taken by Captain Cook's crew from the shores of what is now called Botany Bay in 1770.
In the same year, West Hobart's Sheila Allen, a descendant of Sir Joseph Banks' servant James Roberts, who was just 16 years old at the time of his arrival in Australia spoke out in support of the repatriation of artefacts.
Last year he said recent research into the history of the shield, which has been inside the museum for 250 years, aims to undermine his battle for its return.
Mr Kelly labelled research questioning the British Museum's own narrative the shield "propaganda put there to cast doubt on the provenance of the shield, and to silence the campaign for repatriation".
He has also been lobbying the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology which also holds a number of artefacts in its possession, owned by Trinity College.
During his last visit to the UK late last year Mr Kelly took part in an unofficial "Stolen Goods Tour" of the British Museum which called for the repatriation of artefacts from Iraq, Easter Island and Australia.