ABSTRACT

The landscape around the islands of Kiribati is inviting and seductive with pristine blue lagoons, coconut trees hanging lazily over the beaches, and a far horizon where sky and ocean merge into one. This is a variation of a well-known ritual in Kiribati in which the umbilical cord connects the new-born within the extended family and grounds the new-born to family land. Teueroa is a navigator who can make long inter-island journeys on the Pacific Ocean, and she can read the weather. She learns much of her knowledge through repetition, memorization, and models. Teueroa is learning about the landscape not by quantifying it or observing its parts, but by qualifying it, being in it, feeling it on her frail, young body. Teueroa's skills rest on generations of knowledge passed down through family lines. Knowing the landscape, then, is equally about applying ancient skills of navigation and recognizing that one is always at risk of losing their way.