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David Maurice Smith / Oculi



Living In The Shadows
Canada    www.davidmauricesmith.com

In 1835 the town of Wilcannia, Australia was “discovered” by explorer Major Thomas Mitchell. Located inland on the Darling river, the name originates from the local Barkindji people and translates to either ‘gap in the bank where the floodwaters escape’ or ‘wild dog’. The polarity of this lost translation reflects the identity of the Barkindji who called the area home long before Mitchell arrived.

The Barkindji strive to rewrite a cultural story torn from them through historical wrongs. They face the challenge of adapting to external influences while living in deep shadows cast by institutionalized racism. As traditional keepers of one of the most prosperous countries on the planet they endure third world conditions. Barkindji men have a life expectancy of only 37yrs, domestic violence rates are 13 times that of other Australian communities and infant mortality rates are 3 times higher than non-Aboriginal people. Dependency on government subsidies for survival, overcrowding, violence, alcohol and drug abuse keep the community in a cycle of survival mode.

Although damaged, the spirit of the Barkindji carries on. There is rhythm and meaning despite the shadows cast on the Barlkindji. The fact that even shreds of their culture remain is a testament to their resilience.