“Tin’aa” means “copper shield” in the Tlingit language.
Copper shields have been used by indigenous people of the Northwest Coast as a form of wealth and prestige. Copper shields’ values were dependent on what they were traded for and could easily be worth hundreds of objects of valuable trade goods such as blankets, boxes, and bowls.
Copper is a native metal to the Northwest Coast and could be collected along the banks of the Copper River in Alaska. Copper was hammered into large and distinctive shield shapes and then painted or engraved with traditional designs, often relating the clan in possession of the copper shield, in the style of the region.
Contemporary artists throughout the Northwest Coast continue to return to the distinctive shape of the shield copper to envision new ideas about wealth, abundance, and tradition.