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Australian aboriginal leaders to ask Prince William for remains of local warrior

Monday, January 18th 2010 - 11:44 UTC
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Pemulwuy fiercely resisted the British colonisation of Australia Pemulwuy fiercely resisted the British colonisation of Australia

Australian aboriginal elders will ask Prince William to help them find the decapitated head of the great Aboriginal warrior, Pemulwuy and return it to their homeland.

The head is believed to be stored in a jar, somewhere in England, having been severed from the warrior's body 14 years after the arrival of the First Fleet.

The Australian reports elder Michael Mundine, of the Aboriginal Housing Company, one of five indigenous people chosen to meet the Prince during his visit to Sydney this week, said he believed William “has his mother's heart” and would listen sympathetically to a request for the head to be returned.

“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 said.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Rob Welsh, who will also meet the Prince, said he was planning to ask him to help return Pemulwuy “and the remains of all our ancestors”.

Pemulwuy is believed to have been born in 1750, and was therefore about 38 years old when the British First Fleet arrived. He fiercely resisted the British colonisation of Australia, using fire as a weapon, destroying crops and animals, and raiding settlements. He was accused of spearing Governor Arthur Phillip's gamekeeper.

As his legend grew, so did his supporters: at one point, he had more than 100 followers, who knew him as the “rainbow warrior” for the colours he wore. Pemulwuy was shot dead on the orders of governor Philip King in 1802.

Some believe Pemulwuy's skull was bottled and returned to Australia in 1950, and then lost. In 1998, a Taree man came forward, claiming to have it, but local elders did not believe him, and the claim was never proven.

Categories: Politics, International.

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