Mapping the Mythological Landscape: An Aboriginal Way of Being-in-the-World

Document Type



Environmental Analysis (Pitzer)

Publication Date



Warlpiri Aborigines, Maps, Landscape, Dreaming


Warlpiri Aborigines utilize graphic and cognitive systems to represent their connections to landscape. The Dreaming is the primary mechanism through which Warlpiri organize and understand the significance of places. Each Dreaming myth has an accompanying graphic map, which references incidents and places associated with Ancestors. The maps recount sites along Dreaming tracks, and provide assessments of resources. Warlpiri create these coded images to coordinate physiographic and mythical components of the landscape. They structure knowledge about the world and facilitate the recollection of activities in space. Dreaming maps signify, among other things, aspects of cultural ecology around which society is organized.


Please note that this article was reprinted in Environmental Philosophy: Critical Concepts in the Environment, edited by J. Baird Callicott and Clare Palmer and published by Routledge in 2004.

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© 1998 Carfax Publishing Ltd