Muquinna, Chief
d. 1795
Muquinna (more commonly transliterated as Maquinna), which means “possessor of pebbles”, was the name of at least two successive leaders of the Mowachaht First Nations from Nootka Sound. Muquinna took over as leader of the Mowachaht First Nation (known today as the Mowachaht/Muchalat people of the Nuu-chah-nulth confederacy) after his father died in 1778, and was able to gain power and prestige as a mediator and regulator of the maritime fur trade during a period of competition between England and Spain.1
According to the Canadian Dictionary of Biography Online, Muquinna may have been the leader mentioned by Cook—not mentioned by name, however—who engaged in negotiations with Cook, who he welcomed to the Mowachaht summer home of Yuquot (“Friendly Cove”) in 1778.2 In 1792, during the Nootka Conventions, Muquinna established a rapport with Spanish captain Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, and proved to be an apt diplomat, as Muquinna hosted emissaries from both the Spanish and the British at the Mowachaht winter village of Tahsis.3
It is difficult to determine which Muquinna carried out certain acts, as chronologies of deaths and accessions of leadership are unclear. An account from Charles Bishop, a fur trader in Nootka Sound in 1795, claims that one Muquinna, possibly the elder, died in 1795; however, an earlier account by Alexander Walker, who was on Strange's trade expedition, states that by 1786 the elder Muquinna had become blind with age and the younger Muquinna had already taken over leadership.
In 2018, Ray Williams (Ghoo-Noom-Tuuk-Tomlth), the last Mowachaht man living in Yuquot with his family, expressed that the stories that are written about our people are totally wrong. It was never ever told in our version, our way of telling the story. Williams expressed his discontent with how local, Indigenous efforts to tell Maquinna's story have been overshadowed by the “more popular” account of Mowachaht life as told by John Jewitt, an Englishman who spent 28 months captive under Maquinna until 1805.5
Mentions of this person in the documents