Forrest Gump, the Oscar winning movie of 1994 has several paramount messages to the moviegoer. One is dispatched several times by Forrest. I think it was something like this: “My mumma always said life is like a flying feather, you never know where you gonna go”. The film starts with a flying feather by chance landing next to Forrest’s right foot, while waiting for a bus. At the end, the feather flies off in the wind into the credits and beyond.
Where did Forest Gump’s feather end up? It ended up at Ájtte – Svenskt Fjäll- och Samemuseum (Swedish Mountain and Saami Museum) in Jokkmokk. As part of the Laponia exhibition there is a 3D simulator that powers you into the World Heritage site: Virtual 3D – Laponia Heritage Area. You are flying with Gump’s feather. Stand squarely to avoid getting dizzy as you are lifted from one mountain top to another, land by cabins, and coast along rivers in mighty valleys.
Laponia is one of four unusual World Heritage sites combining nature and cultural heritage. Laponia is almost 10 000 square kilometres of wilderness. It consists of four national parks, Sarek, Padjelanta, Stora Sjöfallet and Muddus, as well as the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba. It is the world’s largest unmodified nature area to still be cultured by natives. The Saami culture is still animating the area with reindeer herding. The Saami is not using the whole area, only part of the area is actually used for pasture.
The Justification of the World Heritage Committee is as follows:
The area is an outstanding example of how the earth has developed, especially geologically, and how ecological and biological changes happen today. There are also unique natural phenomena of exceptional natural beauty and significant natural localities for the protection of biological diversity. The area, which has been inhabited by the Saami since prehistoric times, is one of the best preserved examples of a nomadic area in northern Scandinavia. It contains settlements and pastures for large herds of reindeer, a custom that was once very common, going back to an early stage in human economic and social development.
It is natural for Ájtte to focus exhibition on this great heritage in their midst. And perhaps, most importantly, project what you can do in nature. The 3D simulator is just one device exposing the visitors to the splendor of Laponia.
You can practice throwing a lasso, squeezing mosquitos, try the old hunter traps, milk a cow, learn how to determine what animal has left a trace, and follow the mountain fox into the puppy nest. There is a very elaborate exhibition of birds. You find stuffed owls of this biotope, from the smallest to the biggest.
But, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the Laponia World Heritage site first hand.