Indigemoji is now a sticker set of 90 emojis representing life, culture and language of Arrernte Country in Central Australia, closely considered and guided by our emoji bosses. Each has an Arrente name, the traditional language of Mparntwe/Alice Springs, words we hope you’ll learn. We’ve also developed emojis for special totemic species, either endangered or extinct. A simple emoji of a bilby or a bandicoot promotes their memory, their name, their places in the landscape where they sprang into existence in the Altyerre and where they moved about on their epic journeys. This way they remain in our landscape.

A new set of Indigenous emojis made on Arrernte land in Mparntwe/Alice Springs! Over the 2018-19 summer school holidays, young people in Alice Springs did their bit to decolonise the internet, by learning to design and make a new set of emojis relevant to their culture and lives. The were released via a free sticker set app in November 2019.

A collaboration between Ingeous Studios, InDigiMOB, Geek in Residence, Alice Springs Public Library, Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service, the Johnston Foundation and proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

Produced by Kathleen Wallace Kemarre, Veronica Dobson Perrurle, Joel Liddle Perrurle and Caddie Brain with artists Graham Wilfred Jnr, Emma Stubbs, Phillip McCormack, Colleen Powell, Wyona Palmer, Dave Wells (Ramen) and Lindsay Matthews and others!

You can use the emojis by downloading the free sticker set app.

How do I use Indigemoji stickers?

Firstly, find some WiFi and download the Indigemoji app from the App Store or Google Play. You can now look through the stickers and share them to text messages, WhatsApp, Messenger or social media platforms. On Apple platforms they also function as a sticker pack, allowing for better integration onto your phone. Because they are stickers, they can’t be used in-line with text on social media platforms – instead, they will behave more like images.

Why don’t they behave exactly like normal emojis?

Emojis were originally developed in Japan before being adopted, expanded and used around the world. The official emoji set is now controlled by Unicode, an international consortium that approves and manage what emojis are adopted into the official set. To get a new emoji adopted into the official set, you need to go through an extensive application process, a process which recently rejected a key symbol of Aboriginal Australia, the Aboriginal Flag. Therefore we’ve made our own sticker set to reflect our own language and culture.

Is there an emoji keyboard?

We would love to make one. But after trialling various platforms we have yet to find a way of making a keyboard that is both user-friendly and secure. If you have suggestions, let us know!

How were the stickers made?

​The concepts and artworks were made during eight weeks of free digital art workshops at the Alice Springs Public Library, overseen by a group of senior Arrernte advisors. The workshops ran all day every day of the summer 2018-2019 school holidays with a team of youth workers and Indigenous artists. We also worked with local art centres and other Indigenous organisations to make certain emojis. All artists and advisors were paid for their time and contribution. We then worked with a graphic designer to help us polish our final designs, learning some higher-level graphic design skills along the way. The app was made by Ingeous Studios in Cairns, an Indigenous-owned and run technology and design company. It was funded by Indigimob and the Northern Territory Government. See full credits for the project here.

What language are the emojis in?

There are many different dialects of Arrernte spoken today. The language of the emoji set is Eastern and Central Arrernte spoke around Mparntwe/Alice Springs, Amoonguna, Ltyentye Apurte/Santa Teresa and Titjikala.

Why did we make them?

Our aim is to share a slice of Arrernte culture with the world and increase our representation on digital platforms. Each emoji has been carefully thought through, developed and approved by a group of senior Arrernte advisors and other community members. We want our kids to feel that their language and culture is relevant and that they have opportunities in this new digital world.

Why aren’t there any stickers relating to the sea or other parts of Australia?

These stickers were made with young people, artists and linguists on Arrernte country in Central Australia. They predominantly relate to Arrernte life and culture. We would not presume to represent the cultural content of other communities. We would love to share everything we’ve learnt and help others make their own emoji stickers! If that’s you, just get in touch!

Who is Indigemoji?

​Indigemoji is a collaborative team that worked together to produce this app. The copyright for the artwork and cultural knowledge remains with each individual artist involved. They have licensed the use of their work to be included and shared through the Indigemoji app.

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