Aboriginal bones found at Encounter Bay

Aboriginal bones have been found at Encounter Bay.
Aboriginal bones have been found at Encounter Bay.

Aboriginal bones thought to be hundreds of years old were discovered during cabling works on Franklin Parade.

On Friday, May 15, SA Power Networks dug holes for cables to be run for the national broadband network.

The contractors discovered the bones a few hundred metres north of the Encounter Bay boat ramp.

An NBN Co. spokesperson said the company has an established relationship with Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority, which represents the traditional owners and elders of the land on which the work was taking place.

He said the NBN Co., the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and the contractors have worked together in all aspects of the cabling rollout, with the aim of protecting Ngarrindjeri heritage.

“NBN takes great care when planning infrastructure upgrades for heritage and Indigenous sites and has worked hand-inhand with the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority to build in a safe and respectful way,” she said.

“The way the heritage find and relocation has been handled is testament to the strong and respectful relationship that has been established between the organisations.”

Darrell Sumner, of Ngarrindjeri Heritage and Ngarrindjeri Native Title, confirmed the bones were Aboriginal.

He said the bones were from the Ngarrindjeri nation and estimated they were at least 200-years-old.

It is unknown exactly how many bodies had been found.

A reburial of the bones and a traditional smoking ceremony - presided by Elder Major Moogy Sumner - was held on Saturday.

Mr Darrell Sumner said reburying bones as close as possible to their place of discovery gives respect to the deceased and honours the cultural tradition of Aboriginal peoples’ relationship to the land.

He praised the contractors who made the discovery for notifying Ngarrindjeri authorities.

“They handled it reasonably, we appreciated it,” he said.

“They were very sensitive with what they were doing.”

Mr Sumner said the south coast is a common area for Aboriginal burial sites.

He said bones were located three years ago within metres of the latest discovery.

Bone discoveries can be reported to the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority on 8531 3868

Ramindjeri man disputes burial process

A Ramindjeri man has disputed the true ownership of the bones found at Encounter Bay last Friday, May 15.

Ramindjeri spokesman Karno Walker said his tribe has the true connection to country and land, where the bones were discovered last week.

Mr Walker said he was not happy with how the situation was handled and stated that his tribe should have been notified first.

“We are the true tribal people of country and the bones should have been handed back to us and not to a group with no connection to country,” Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker said the government had no authority to override the Ramindjeri tribe’s sovereignty of the land.

He said his tribe has been acknowledged as a nation of their own in federal court and not a sub-group of Ngarrindjeri.

“We challenged them (the Ngarrindjeri) in court and now they have no jurisdiction over us,” he said.