Violence marred the encounter between the British and Gweagal at Kamay (Botany Bay) in 1770. By the time he returned, the sailors had scrambled .. Read more ashore. Two hundred years later, around Cook’s 1970 bicentenary, an undocumented shield fitting this description was located in the British Museum. Since then, it has been mobilised for various kinds of public storytelling – exhibitions, radio programs, journalism, documentaries, repatriation claims, and books -- about the 1770 encounter and its legacies. Recently, though, its provenance as that shield, the one used defensively against Cook, has been questioned. But what happens when their claim to “being there” falters? And why do some objects, like the ‘Gweagal’ shield, become “sticky” while others, like the well-provenanced spears that Cook confiscated as part of the same ‘foundational’ encounter, attract far less public attention?.
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