By ERWIN CHLANDA
Nearly 1000 young people from Indigenous communities across Central Australia participated in developing Australia’s first set of Indigenous emojis available from today through a free app called Indigemoji (sample above).
Creative Director Leigh Harris says designing emojis relevant to the participants’ lives and culture is a way of increasing their digital skills and working to decolonise the internet.
“Many had never used a tablet or any kind of design software before,” he says.
“The project is growing digital and creative skills in one of the most remote parts of Australia.”
The project was overseen culturally by a group of senior Arrernte emoji advisors, Veronica Dobson Perrurle, Kathleen Wallace Kemarre and Joel Liddle Perrurle, who hope the project will share and inspire the use of Arrernte language and culture, according to a media release.
“Unfortunately, the uptake of new learners of Arrernte is low,” Mr Liddle is quoted.
“The rate of those progressing from learner to intermediate to fluent is practically non-existent.
“While there are still strongholds of Arrernte language speakers within our communities, the job of maintaining language, teaching it and finding innovative ways of utilising it is so often left up to the brilliant, but ageing elders and their families in our communities.
“So we hope these emojis will bridge this gap and inspire more young people to keep learning.”
The emoji designs were developed over seven weeks of workshops for young people at the Public Library as part of the Geek in Residence program last summer, funded through a NT Government youth activities grant, with the support of Alice Springs Town Council.