Where the Floodwaters Escape "That was the way it had been throughout all the long ages since the Dreamtime, and how it remained until the appearance of a new kind of evil spirit that came in the guise of pale boree ghosts from the land of the dead. The evil was insidious, for it came bearing gifts and offering friendship, so that the people did not immediately recognize it for what it was. Not that they could have resisted its inexorable onslaught in any case, for it was more potent and malign than anything that lurked in caves or the murky depths of waterholes. And against it the magic of the mekigar was powerless." -excerpt from Lament for the Barkindji by Bobbie Hardy Since 2012 I have been drawn to the rural Indigenous community of Wilcannia, NSW, Australia, home to the Barkindji people. In my time there I have witnessed a convoluted junction of race, history, power and socioeconomics and grappled to understand it meaningfully. The Barkindji have emerged scathed from a historical war fought with the tools of battle, disease and cultural cleansing, only to face a contemporary one fought through policy and institutionalized neglect. Their story is bound by a chain of cultural identity, some links holding strong and others damaged beyond repair. Like the majority of Aboriginal Australians, while they have survived, the legacies of the past continue to impact them in exhausting ways. To put it in context, a Barkindji man in Wilcannia has a life expectancy of only 37 years. Where the Floodwaters Escape reflects a people whose identity is shaped by the polarity of their history and the uncertainty of their future. Amongst the dysfunction in this community, there is evidence of their determination and will, threads of culture that hold them together. A meaningful narrative exists somewhere in the space between, framed by beauty, fragility, despair and hope. To be Barkindji is a blessing, despite the involuntary burden that is inherited.