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Keywords:

  • indigenous peoples;
  • spatial knowledge;
  • Austronesian;
  • Taiwan;
  • mental maps

Abstract

This article recounts information gleaned from a case study of three indigenous tribes in Taiwan regarding the origin and nature of their spatial knowledge. Sketched mental maps and GIS 3D virtual environment (VE) are used by indigenous elders and hunters to delineate their traditional territories. Spatial components representing the predominant spatial elements are identified. Spatial structures used for locational positioning are analyzed, as are spatial reference systems for orientation and movement. The results show that spatial components are used for daily activities, as well as having historical and cultural meaning; a quadrant structure is used for spatial positioning; and instead of using the directional reference system of east, south, west, and north, these indigenous people rely on the orientation analogies of uphill, downhill, upstream, and downstream for direction.