Do You Know Where the Nicola Gets its Name?

In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 2023, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District is asking: do you know where the Nicola gets its name?

Nicola Country is named for Grand Chief N’Kwala, who was an important Indigenous leader during the 19th century.

Grand Chief N’Kwala lived from 1785 to 1859, and was known as “N’Kwala” to the Okanagan Peoples and “Nicola” to fur traders and gold miners. He became Grand Chief of the Okanagan Nation in 1822. His original name was Hwistesmexe’qen, which means “Walking Grizzly Bear” in Spokane language.

The following excerpt has been documented by the Vernon Museum & Archives:

Among both his People, and the fur traders and gold miners who entered the Valley, N’Kwala developed a reputation for ‘sagacity, honesty, prudence and fair dealing, and was rather a peacemaker than a fighting man.’ Of all of the era’s Southern Interior Chiefs, N’Kwala was said to have the most power and influence.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is proud to acknowledge National Indigenous Peoples Day, where we celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada. To learn more, visit the Government of Canada website by clicking here.

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