Watch two Barkindji Elders talk about the river, country, lakes and culture and the plans to decommission the Menindee Lakes.
The Darling-Baaka River and the Menindee Lakes are central to the cultural, spiritual and economic lives of the Barkindji people. They call the river the Baaka and the Barkindji name translates as People of the River. Barkindji Elders have witnessed a decline in the health of the river they grew up on as upstream irrigation took more and more water and flows in the river slowed to stagnant pools or stretches of dry river bed for months on end.
The Barkindji are strongly opposed to the plans to reconfigure the Menindee Lakes. Morton Boolka, the channel country between Lake Menindee and Lake Cawndilla, holds thousands of sacred sites. Plans to build a new dam wall and regulator to cut Morton Boolka and Lake Cawndilla off from the other lakes and the River will directly and indirectly damage these sites, totems and Barkindji culture in this important area.
The decline in the health of the river and the lakes has hit the Barkindji hard. Some have had to leave their communities to seek employment elsewhere, while dry rivers and lakes causes depression in the community. Sacred sites are being harmed by a lack of water, while the remains of Barkindji ancestors are being exposed as dry lake beds and rivers erode. Cultural practices related to the river can not be practiced without water. Bad quality water, a lack of fish and recreation harm the health and soul.
Concern for the health of the Baaka spans across the generations. Watch this music video from Wilcannia:
"Country is my heartbeat, water is life. If the Baaka stops flowin’, no-one gonna survive."