Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz, an invited guest from Mexico and representative of the Center for Earth Ethics with Jason Kelly (left), leader of the ceremony in Balranald. Photograph: Dean Sewell for the Guardian

Mungo Man: The Journey Home

This week, Australia welcomed home its oldest known human, 43,000 year old Mungo Man.  CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida, traveled across the globe to be a part of this historic event.   

Dean Sewell documented the long journey home for The Guardian.

Mindahi, what was the purpose of your trip to Australia?

“The main reason to attend the return of Mungo Man is to witness one of the most important repatriation acts in modern Australia. 

In 1974 discovery of Mungo Man, the burial indicated that he was an important community leader. He had been buried with extraordinary ritual. This ritual was enacted here on the cathedral shores of Lake Mungo 40 000 years ago.
In the name of indigenous peoples and CEE, I came to deliver a message of support to aboriginal peoples and to Australia people that we need to work together in the recovery of human dignity and the protection of sacred sites in order to honor and protect life.”
What is the significance of Mungo Man returning home for the people of Australia, and for Original Peoples across the globe?

“The return of Mungo Man signifies the beginning of dignity recovery of indigenous peoples from Australia and around the world.

According to Australian Aboriginal Tradition and customs, burial places are sacred places of their ancestors. They would never allow to dig out the remains of such sacred places. 
This act is very significant for indigenous peoples around the world  and for human dignity.
This represents the acknowledgment that ancestral wisdom is key for reconciliation with Mother Earth and among humans and other living beings and the sacred elements of life.”
What is the significance for Mother Earth and the mission to protect sacred sites and the original instructions?
“The significance to protect sacred sites around the world is to protect the main sources of Mother Earth’s life. It also gives a chance to acknowledge Mother Earth as a major entity in where we human beings depend on for our survival. The continuous reciprocity between humanity and Mother Earth dignifies our presence in this world. This give us a chance to strengthen our mission for human life to be back in balance with Mother Earth.”


Professor James Bowler who made the world famous discovery in 1974, spoke with Dr. Kurt Johnson about the scientific, cultural and spiritual significance of Mungo Man and this time of his repatriation. The discussion includes Indigenous Events Director, Sam Cook who worked on the “Return To Country” commemoration with cultural song and dance.