View of north side of the Potlatch Gallery, ceremonial regalia mounted along the wall to the right of the viewer. Image shows a section of the north side of the Potlatch Gallery in which a speaker’s staff, a dzunakwa mask, four mourning masks and two copper shields are displayed. Image of a corner of the Potlatch Gallery close to the entrance View of the entrance wall at the east end of the Potlatch Gallery.

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T´łakwa - Copper Shield

Still photograph of Tłakwa - Copper Shield against black background

A copper is the most valuable thing that a Chief can own.

The copper (shield) is essential to the potlatch ceremony - if a chief does not own a copper, he cannot host a potlatch. Every copper has its own name, history, and value. In older times, coppers were used to settle disputes. A Chief could break a part off his copper and give it to a rival Chief, who would need to break off a part of an equally valuable copper to resolve their conflict. This tradition is no longer practiced.

Owner: Johnny Nulis