Grand Chief N’Kwala

June 20, 2021

Hwistesmexe’qen, known more commonly as N’Kwala or Nicola, was a 19th-century Indigenous leader who exemplified fatherhood.

Family & Kinship

Chief N’Kwla had 50 of so children of his own, and he was also responsible for the wellbeing of many others through his roles as Grand Chief of the Okanagan Peoples and Chief of the Nicola Valley Peoples.

N’Kwala was born circa 1785 at either the head of Okanagan Lake or near Nicola Lake to Okanagan Chief Pelkamu’lox and an unknown Stuwi’x woman.


N’Kwala became Grand Chief of the Okanagan Peoples after his father was killed in 1822. He was later granted the title of Chief of the Nicola Peoples following the death of his uncle Kwali’la.

Over the course of his life, it is believed that N’Kwala had up to 15 wives who came from different tribes across the Interior.


Chief N’Kwala was never photographed but his legacy is still felt today. Vernon’s N’Kwala Park at 5440 MacDonald Road was named after him.


A Renowned Peacemaker

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.

N’Kwala passed away in the fall of 1859. He was succeeded by his nephew Tsilaxitsa. N’Kwala had raised his nephew since infancy, following the death of his mother during childbirth, and Tsilaxitsa followed many of his uncle’s philosophies during his own chieftaincy. Today, N’Kwala’s legacy lives on: hundreds of his descendants continue to live in B.C.’s Southern Interior and adjoining regions of the United States.


Gwyn Evans

7 thoughts on “Grand Chief N’Kwala

  1. Teresa K Taylor says:

    There are photos of Chief N’Kwala. I am a descendent through his daughter ‘Marianne’ , who married Frederick Brent. They can be found online.

    • Pleased to hear from a descendent! We don’t have any photos of Chief N’Kwala in our archives, and couldn’t find any online. If you can point us in the direction of one, that would be appreciated! Thank you!

    • I am also also a decendent! He is my 4th great grandfather . Where could I find those pictures . Would be cool to see .

    • John mclellan says:

      Hey I am also a descendent of Maryann and Fredrick!

      John Mclellan
      John Mclellan
      John lloyd Mclellan (me)

      Look me up on Facebook!

  2. Did Chief Tsilaxitsa have a daughter named Victoirie, or Victorie or Victoria? I am looking for the mother of Victoria, and believe her name was Cecile, but cannot very or cross reference this. Victoria would be my Great Grandmother on my Father’s side. Victorie was born on the Douglas Lake Reserve, married a Welshman named Edwin Jones and had 6 children. They lived in Enderby, BC.

Comments are closed.