Former Greens Senator Bob Brown returns Indigenous artifact to Ngarbal community

RETURNED HOME: Land Council CEO Jayden Potter said the three artifacts have major historic and spiritual significance. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

RETURNED HOME: Land Council CEO Jayden Potter said the three artifacts have major historic and spiritual significance. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

Three centuries-old artifacts souvenired by a farmer a generation ago have been returned to the Glen Innes Land Council by the farmer's nephew - Bob Brown.

The former Greens Senator traveled through the New England on his way back from the Stop Adani Convoy in May.

He dropped off the traditional tools on the way.

Land Council CEO Jayden Potter identified the artifacts as a grounded edge axe, a chisel and a hammer stone used to create other tools.

The last in particular would have been very valuable and could have been traded several times between tribes, making it particularly significant, he said.

"They belong to us, it's a piece of our history and now they're returned home," he said.

"That took a lot of work (to make) and whoever made that there's a piece of that person still in here."

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They were found decades ago in a field east of the Shannon Vale Road about a kilometre from the Mann River, he said.

The artifacts aren't just historic curios to the Ngarbal community, and have major spiritual value to Glen Innes' Indigenous community.

Jayden Potter said former Senator Brown has done the right thing by returning the artifact, but these days the best thing to do is to leave artifacts in place and alert the Land Council to preserve their site in context.

"Back a couple of years ago up until the 80s, 90s, people used to make private collections of them and collect as many as they could. There's people with houses full of them," he said.

"But now I've found the wider community knows not to grab them and touch them really.

"But then there's other people that pick them up because they're a cool looking rock and taken them home.

"I've been around people recently that brought one back from way out west.

"They put it to their ear and I just said can you hear old mate in there?

"Just take it home, give it back."

The stone on the left is a hammer stone, ofted used to create or sharpen other tools. The top one is a chisel, and the darker stone is an axe head.

The stone on the left is a hammer stone, ofted used to create or sharpen other tools. The top one is a chisel, and the darker stone is an axe head.

Former Senator Bob Brown grew up in northern NSW, but after starting his career as a medical doctor moved to Tasmania. He later became famous for his part in the Franklin River campaign and then as a state and federal politician and leader of the Australian Greens.

In a note given to Mayor Carol Sparks, the former Tasmanian Senator explains how his uncle William Walter, who owned the property East View near Shannon Vale, found the artifacts sometime between 1920 and 1970.

"I once showed the egg shaped rock to the Australian Museum in Sydney and they said it was just a river rock," said Mr Brown in the note.

"Thank you for helping to hand these to their rightful owners. They come with my regret at all that happened in the last 200 years and admiration for such an earth-honoring culture as theirs."

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The Land Council has a keeping place for its collection but chooses to show some items in school trips for educational purposes.

It's impossible to date the artifacts without using expensive carbon dating or other techniques.

The Glen Innes surrounds are littered with artifacts including birthing sites and marriage sites. Jayden says every time he goes out on country he finds new significant sites - even at the park at Cragieburn.

Residents who find Indigenous sites are urged not to disturb them and to report them to the Glen Innes Local Aboriginal Land Council.