After Cook returned to England, four of the spears were presented by Lord Sandwich to Trinity College. They’ve been in the care of Cambridge’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology since 1914, according to the news release.
In the release, La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council chairperson Noeleen Timbery called the spears “enormously significant.”
They are an important connection to our past, our traditions and cultural practices, and to our ancestors,” Timbery said.
“Our Elders have worked for many years to see their ownership transferred to the traditional owners of Botany Bay,” she went on. “Many of the families within the La Perouse Aboriginal community are descended from those who were present during the eight days the Endeavour was anchored in Kamay in 1770.”
The La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Gujaga Foundation submitted an official request for repatriation of the spears in December after years of campaigning, according to the release.
The spears will hopefully travel to Australia in the coming months, according to the release. The local community is currently constructing a new visitor center that will host the artifacts. In the meantime, the spears will be stored at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
Shayne Williams, an elder of the Dharawal Nation — a broader group that encompasses the Gweagal people from whom the spears were originally taken — emphasized the importance of the spears for cultural education and thanked the school for caring for the “priceless” artifacts for more than 200 years.
“These spears are of immeasurable value as powerful tangible connections between our forebears and ourselves,” he said in the news release. “I want to acknowledge the respectfulness of Trinity College in returning these spears back to our community.”