Much of this activity centred around the Lutheran mission of Hermannsburg, where the collection and selling of churingas had become commonplace.
During my work on repatriation, I have also recorded a number of cases, including recent ones, in which Aboriginal people have chosen to give or sell their churingas to private collectors.
Under Aboriginal customary law, churingas were not only seen as the embodiment of a person's ancestral forebears, they were also considered to be the owner's private property.
Certainly, good quality churingas can now be bought without too much difficulty from private traders both in Australia and overseas, and occasionally they even appear on eBay.
We also knew that the return of a particularly significant churinga would exacerbate these troubles and probably lead to physical violence.