THE Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy was a ”pest to the colony” who led the first war of resistance against British settlers before he was shot, decapitated and his head sent to England. But now the future king of England has made it his personal mission to ensure Pemulwuy’s remains come home.Prince William has taken up a request put to him by Aboriginal elders in Redfern during his recent visit to Sydney to return the missing skull. The prince was deeply moved by the story.The man known as the ”rainbow warrior”, for the colours he wore, was killed in 1802 after leading a guerilla war against settlers at Toongabbie, Parramatta and the Hawkesbury River for more than a decade.”A terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character,” was how the governor Philip King, who ordered his death, described him.Pemulwuy’s skull went missing more than a century ago.When Prince William, who is second-in-line for the British throne, visited the Block in January, a group of elders and activists, including Mick Mundine, presented him with a petition asking that Pemulwuy’s skull be returned.That request has kicked off what the prince’s private secretary describes as a ”supremely important search”.”On his return from Australia, Prince William told me that he intended to do all that he could to investigate the circumstances surrounding the missing head,” wrote the secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, in a letter to Mr Mundine.”His Royal Highness was so profoundly impressed by the determination of the Aboriginal elders he met that day in Redfern in their quest to right the wrongs done to this famous warrior in death, and to afford his mortal remains a proper burial.”Mr Mundine, the head of the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company, said he was surprised when he opened the letter and saw the royal insignia.”For Prince William to give us the recognition, and send us the letter back, that shows respect,” he said.The only problem – where to find the missing skull.Bottled and sent to Sir Joseph Banks in London after the assassination, the head was later thought to have been given to the Royal College of Surgeons.The letter quotes the director of the Natural History Museum in London, Michael Dixon, who said his institution may have taken custodianship of the head in 1948 when they accepted around 3000 skulls from the college.But, he said, it was possible the skull was destroyed before then. ”The Royal College of Surgeons was extensively bombed in 1941 and over half the specimens in their collection were destroyed.”Historians welcomed news of the renewed effort to return the head, but they said the trail had run cold many times before.”Being in Britain the prince may be able to find something we couldn’t,” said Keith Vincent Smith, who specialises in the Aboriginal history of early Sydney.Mr Mundine said it was important for Australians to acknowledge Pemulwuy’s role in a resistance movement.”I hate dwelling on the past, but some of the past needs to brought into the open.”
Nanjing Night Net