Find message sticks from your Country

  1. Go to the database, click on the map icon in the top left page, or scroll down to the bottom of the page. Zoom in and out of the map by clicking the + or – buttons, or by double clicking anywhere on the map.
  2. Click on any of the dots. This will bring up a preview pane of the message stick. Within the preview pane click on the ID number in blue which will take you to the full record.
  • Note that some locations have many message sticks associated with them. In this case, when you click on the dot, it will display multiple dots in a fan or spiral formation.
  • Remember that the map represents only those message sticks that have been successfully localised by the project so it is incomplete. It’s also worth noting that message sticks were not used in all parts of Australia. It is likely, for example, that they were not used in Diyari Country, Ngaatjatjarra Country or Lutruwita (Tasmania) at the time that First Nations people encountered outsiders.

Search for messages and meanings

  1. Go to the database, look for the Message: field and type in any word, for example, “river”. This search will bring up any message stick which has “river” as part of its message.
  2. Alternatively, look for the Semantic domains: field and search by general semantic theme. These are all prefixed with sd_ for “semantic domain”. You can select these from a dropdown menu. Eg, sd_activity_war.
  3. Under Keywords: you can select different categories. Two of the most useful are “interpreted_artefacts” to bring up all message sticks with documented meanings, and “glossed_artefacts” to bring up all message sticks with meanings that have also been associated with individual signs.

Search for anything

  1. Go to the database, look for the Any text: field and type anything at all. This is a general search that will allow you to find any word or part of a word that appears in an individual entry. For example, search for part of a semantic domain (such as sd_activity as opposed to sd_activity_war), or search by the ID of the artefact.
  2. Combine this search with a semantic domain or keyword search to narrow your results.

Download the data

  1. If you’d rather query the data in your own way, go to the homepage of the database itself and click on download in the top right corner.
  2. The data will download as a text file.