Colin Pardoe was the first physical anthropologist to publicly acknowledge Aboriginal ownership of ancestral remains and to argue for Indigenous rights to determine their future. This was not a popular position at the time, particularly where iconic ancient remains were concerned. But Colin argued:
‘I am opposed to reburial of any skeletal remains. Their value to archaeology and understanding the past is inestimable. However, it is not my decision. By accepting Aboriginal ownership and control of their ancestors’ bones, I accept their decisions on the disposition of those remains’.
And Colin went beyond recognising Traditional Owners’ rights to the repatriation of their ancestors remains. Colin also recognised that archaeologists have a responsibility to return the knowledge of the remains they analyse, and he began to produce community reports, which are now a normal part of most archaeological research and consultancy projects. Colin also uses community reports as a means of two-way communication, both sharing his research results and requesting further research, by explaining the value of such additional study in the report.
Colin’s approach to community consultation, knowledge sharing, and recognition of Indigenous rights in heritage management decision-making has provided a model to which we all should aspire. He is a worthy recipient of the Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement.