This photo was taken at Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) in West Arnhem Land in July 2011.
On three separate occasions over the last 100 years, the bones of the local people of Oenpelli had been taken away and held in museum collections in Australia, the USA and other parts of the world.
It was a big occasion for the community to finally bring the bones of their families back home to their traditional country, and put their spirits to rest in the proper fashion in an important ceremony.
Russell Agalara interviewed Solomon Nangamu about the photo and the significance of the smoking part of the ceremony, which came after the bones had been buried.
Solomon talks about how the different people and objects that had come into contact with the bones needed to be “cleaned” through smoking and rubbing of ochre. This was to keep the spirits confined to where they should be, and not “humbugging” or causing mischief. Often as part of this process, after coming into contact with remains people are not able to wash and are restricted from certain activities.
Solomon is currently in the process of passing down his Seagull songset to Russel, who is the "second singer" for this important cultural musical tradition.
Photograph by Adis Hondo
From left to right, singer Solomon Nangamu, didjeridu player Alfred Gawaraidji, and singer Russel Aglara. Isiah Nagurrgurrba and Traditional Owner Alfred Nayinggul do the smoking.
This story was created at Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre, as part of an ABC Open Top End workshop on the Moment Behind the Photo project, with help from Reuben Brown.