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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

Chief Mungo Martin (1879-1962)

Bronze plaque from a totem pole 1958

RCIN 69833

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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Made from sheets of beaten copper, plaques such as this are among the most significant display of wealth among the indigenous communities of the Northwest Coast of North America. Coppers are highly prized objects and could have the same value as two to three canoes. They are decorated using the characteristic formline shapes that are common throughout Northwest Coast art and which represent spirits, ancestors and nature. They are normally given by chiefs at gift-giving ceremonies known as potlatches. These ceremonies are often held to commemorate significant life events such as births, coming-of-age, marriages and deaths, and can be accompanied by the raising of a totem pole.

This copper was given with the totem pole that is now in Windsor Great Park. It was a gift from the People of Canada to The Queen in June 1958. The pole commemorates the centenary of the naming of British Columbia and is 100 foot high – one foot for each year. It was presented by the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, a federation of many tribes and clans inhabiting the northern part of Vancouver Island and the coastal mainland.