Yagan Statue
Heirisson Island (near Perth), Australia
Date of incident: 09/1997, 2002

Yagan Statue was sculpted by Robert Hitchcock and was unveiled on September 11, 1984, by Yagan Committee chairperson Elizabeth Hanson, in honor of Yagan, a prominent Noongar leader. Yagan led Aboriginal resistance to European settlement of Western Australia in the early 1800s. In 1833, he was killed. His decapitated head was smoked and hung for three months on a tree. It was then taken to England where it was exhibited at private parties and at the Liverpool Royal Institution. The head was kept in the Liverpool Museum’s storage until 1964, when it was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1997, the head was exhumed and repatriated to Australia with the intention of reburying it with the body. During the ceremony, an Aboriginal spokesperson allegedly accepted the skull with a comment that linked Yagan’s death with the death of Princess Diana, who had died that day. A week after Yagan’s head was returned to Perth, an anonymous vandal, who claimed to be a “British Loyalist” beheaded the statue of Yagan and stole its head. The statue was restored and then beheaded a second time in 2002. No further vandalism occurred after its second restoration. Archie Weller’s short film entitled “Confessions of a Headhunter” makes reference to these events from an Aboriginal perspective.


Link to the Weller film