The Copper Print
The Copper, sometimes referred to as a shield or plaque, is engraved, distinctively shaped, and made of copper metal (hence the name).
It was essential in the potlatch economy of the Kwakiutl, Haida, Tlingit, Nuxalk, and Tsimshian peoples. The oral tradition of these peoples “recorded” economic transactions through the Copper.
The particular history of each Copper served to document some of the most important events and transactions engaged in during the life of its present and past owners. They were brought out to climax a potlatch, and formed an important part of marriage and dowry ceremonies.
The Copper represented a strategic complex and nexus of intense values: tradition, power, prestige, honor, wealth, and story-telling.
When something, like the Copper, is deeply embedded in the culture of a society, it may be expressed in many different places and ways such as jewelry, totems, plaques, and clothing.