On maps and indigenous knowledge structures

Of maps and fishermen:
“There is for example a mountain on one on the Haram isles, which is called Skulen, and when one is on a certain area of the ocean this mountain hides another mountain, farther in on the Mainland, which is called Hildre-hesten (the Hildre-horse); if one travels along the land towards the North, then the Horse little by little will come into sight beyond Skulen, and then one says: The Horse fine (when the head of the Horse just has become visible), the Horse coarse, the first part of the Horse, the second part of the Horse, the saddle of the Horse is clear of Skulen etc, and by each of these sightings one knows where one is on the route between South and North; if at the same time one has a méd on the other side one will as well know where one is in the direction from the land or between East and West; thus the experienced man will know, that to avoid this or that reef, he cannot sail any further in this direction, but must veer off to another. Thus, a pilot is able to steer his boat between breakers and dangers, scarcely looking at the dangerous items close by, but more certainly and more often fixes his eyes on the land and the distant mountain heights far way.

Sometimes geography means much more than it seems to mean. The way the world works and its interpretation structures the way we get around in it. We learn to navigate through our world, and navigation is a certain form of thinking…. we need to be aware that as we build structures and systems of interpretation that these do not become systems that overwrite the way people know and navigate already.

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