|RETURN OF SACRED ROCK HERALDED AS POSITIVE RECONCILIATION STEP|
Aboriginal and church leaders have hailed an historic exchange of two sacred rocks in central Australia as a real step forward for reconciliation.
Two moving ceremonies took place last week when the rock was removed, replaced with a sacred local Arrendte rock and returned to its original site.
For over 20 years Kaytete and Warramugu people, who are custodians of the Devil's Marbles group of stones, 400 kilometres north of Alice Springs, have been calling for the return of a boulder from the site, which they believe has magic and sacred powers.
It was removed in the early 1950's by a church leader who headed the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
He used it to commemorate John Flynn's, the founder of the services, grave at the foothills of the Macdonnell Ranges, outside Alice Springs.
Aboriginal calls for the rock's return have sparked anatagonism between church leaders and Aboriginal people.
After the rock was removed with a crane and taken by truck to the Devil's Marbles, traditional owners gave the rock an emotional homecoming with children and women painted up traditionally and singing and dancing around the rock.
ABC 12:42pm 13/9/99