Aboriginal Heritage Project
Scientists and staff from the South Australian Museum, the University of Adelaide, the National Centre of Indigenous Genomics (NCIG), Deakin University and Latrobe University will use specimens, linguistic records and anthropological and archaeological data to piece together a genetic map of Australia. Funding from the Australian Research Council will enable research to provide information that will:
- Allow Aboriginal families to trace regional ancestry with Australia when oral or written records may fail;
- Reconstruct personal and family genealogical history prior to the arrival of Europeans;
- Assist people from the Stolen Generation and others, with reunification and/or identification of family origins;
- Reconstruct migration patterns within Australia;
- Facilitate repatriation of Indigenous cultural items and human remains held at museums in Australia and overseas.
The project will draw on data and collection material collated by Joseph B. Birdsell and Norman B. Tindale during anthropological expeditions from 1928 and through to the 1970s, which is curated at the South Australian Museum.
Some Indigenous individuals and communities have already been involved in a consultative pilot study. The funding now allows many others to be equally engaged in discussions as the project progresses.
The commercial use of the information gained will be prohibited (e.g. commercial ancestry testing) and indemnified from legal use, which means the genetic information gained will not be of suitable legal value in land right issues or ancestry claims.
Support and partner organisations
The project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Grant scheme. It is supported by the NCIG and has gained financial support from partner organisations: Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) and the National Geographic Society. It has additional valuable research support from Bioplatforms SA, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Harvard Medical School.
The project has been approved by the University of Adelaide Human Research Ethics Committee (Application ID: H-2014-252). The project is guided and overseen by an Aboriginal Advisory Board with members from different states (on a rolling basis), as well as the South Australian Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Both advisory groups provide advice, guidance, and monitoring of the project.
The key researchers who will carry out this project are:
Professor Alan Cooper (Geneticist),
|Professor Peter Sutton (Anthropologist, linguist), SA Museum||Dr Wolfgang Haak (Molecular anthropologist), Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany|
|Dr Ray Tobler (Population Geneticist),
University of Adelaide
|A/Prof Emma Kowal (Anthropologist, consultant), Deakin University, Melbourne||Dr Miguel Vilar (National Geographic Society), USA|
|Mr Shane Agius (Community Outreach Officer), SA Museum||Mrs Lesley Williams (Cultural Advisor), Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Queensland||Dr Chris Tyler-Smith (Geneticist), Sanger Institute, UK|
|Mr Ali Abdullah-Highfold (Aboriginal Family History Officer), SA Museum||Dr R John Mitchell (Geneticist), Latrobe University, Melbourne||Prof David Reich (Geneticist, Harvard Medical School), USA|
|Ms Francesca Zilio (Manager, Information Services), SA Museum||Prof Simon Easteal (Geneticist), NCIG, Australian National University, Canberra|
|Dr Keryn Walshe (Anthropologist), SA Museum|
|Miss Isabel O’Loughlin (Community liaison officer), SA Museum|
|Miss Amy O'Donoghue (Community liaison officer), SA Museum|
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