STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Sweden returned to Aboriginal elders the remains of 15 of their ancestors taken from Australia for scientific research a century
"There is much relief with regard to the whole repatriation process, but there'll be more to come on Australia's shores," a spokesperson for the
Aboriginal delegates, Joey Chatfield, told AFP after a special ceremony at the Swedish Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm.
"There'll be stronger emotions in Australia. There'll be tears in our eyes there. We're still a long way from home here," he said.
The 13 skulls and skeletal remains of two other Aborigines will be put on a flight to Canberra on Friday.
Sweden is the first continental European nation to return Aboriginal remains, which explorers and scientists stole by the hundreds in the 19th and
early 20th centuries for supposed studies into racial evolution.
The 15 remains in Sweden, taken primarily from the Kimberly region of Western Australia, were handed back to an 11-member Aboriginal delegation.
The 15 remains were taken from their graves, against the will of their families, and brought to Sweden by scientists Yngve Laurell and Eric Mjoeberg,
who conducted expeditions between 1910 and 1913.
They wanted to study the remains due to their belief that Aboriginals were living examples of stone age men, according to Swedish anthropologist Claes
Hellgren. A book he published a year ago about the expeditions started the ball rolling for the repatriations.
Lotta Mjoeberg, a relative of Eric Mjoeberg who attended Thursday's ceremony, told AFP that she grew up with a feeling that she could help right the
wrongs that were done long before she was born.
"I have met many of these Aboriginals in their homes, and I have apologized for what was done," she said.
"It is fantastic that I could make a small contribution, offer a kind of healing. I think many people are now going to find peace in their graves,"
she said. "Perhaps even Eric."
Australian officials hailed Sweden's cooperation in returning the remains.
"There has been excellent cooperation between all the parties involved in the repatriation, from the governments, museums and communities," said
Australia's ambassador to Stockholm Richard Rowe.