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Living in the Shadows: The Barkindji people of Wilcannia, Australia

The Australian Aboriginal community of Wilcannia serves as a confronting example of the wrongs inflicted on Aboriginal people through colonization and its contemporary systemic manifestations.

The towns aprox 700 residents live in the shadows of the harsh stereotypes associated with being "black" in Australia. The Barkindji (the name of the traditional people of the area) despite being the traditional keepers of one of the most prosperous countries on the planet endure conditions similar to that of many third world nations.

Wilcannia's men have an average life expectancy of only 35 years, the rate of domestic violence is 13 times that of other Australian communities, the unemployment rate hovers over 50% and the infant mortality rate is 3 times higher than in non-aboriginal communities. The town, like so many others, has become a welfare state, dependent upon government subsidies for survival.

Overcrowding, apathy, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, further keep the community in a cycle of survival mode, with residents clinging to the few shreds of cultural fabric they have managed to protect.

The plight of Aboriginal Australians, like so many Indigenous human rights issues has become a silent battle: the voice of the oppressed having been weakened by generations of suffering and a huge socioeconomic gap. The fact that even shreds of their culture remains is a testament to the resilience and courage of Aboriginal people and it further motivates me to document their story.

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