...their 'title deeds' to lands...
Haddon's passion for vast, accurately researched and detailed information was matched by his passion for collecting objects relating to religious decorative art and material culture. The veritable treasure chest of information and artefacts depicting Meriam culture became a two-edged sword in the hands of Meriam landowners in contemporary life. Nearly a centenary after the expedition, The Cambridge Reports were a useful source of written information in their Mabo case. On the other hand, unlike the Yolgnu Aboriginal claimants to land on the Gove Peninsula, Northern Territory in the late 1960s, the Meriam plaintiffs could not produce ritual objects of spiritual significance which the Aboriginal landowners had identified in court as their 'title deeds' to lands claimed.
Keywords: Cambridge Anthropological Expedition, dari, Gove, Gove Case, Haddon, A.C., head dresses, land ownership, Mabo Case, Mer, Yolgnu
Still: Dhari, head-dress, made of white seabird and cassowary feathers bound to an ochred cane frame. Courtesy of Haddon Collection, Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. (Catalogue No: Z.7531)Author: Sharp, Nonie