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Chiefs receive 'national historic' designation

YUQUOT, British Columbia -- Representatives from Parks Canada and the
Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation gathered at Friendly Cove on Nootka Island
to commemorate the maquinna line, and in particular two maquinnas (chiefs),
as people of "national historic significance."

The honors were bestowed upon the tyee ha'wilth (head chief) of the
Mowachaht Nation, who was the maquinna who welcomed Capt. James Cook to
Yuquot (Friendly Cove) in 1778, and the maquinna who oversaw the burgeoning
sea otter fur trade on the west coast of Vancouver Island, when Britain and
Spain almost went to war over control of resources and lands around Nootka

"Maquinna joins an exclusive group of families and people who have played a
very important role in the building of this great nation we call Canada,"
said Steve Langdon, Parks Canada field unit superintendent for coastal
British Columbia.

After unveiling a large plaque -- written in English, French and
Nuu-chah-nulth -- commemorating the event, Tyee Ha'wilth Mike Maquinna
said, "the history of our family is well documented, and we appreciate the
awareness of the living culture we have in Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory."

"With today's commemoration, we are helping all Canadians to understand and
appreciate the historic significance of the first two maquinna," said
Environment Minister Stephane Dion, the minister responsible for Parks
Canada, in a subsequent press release. "At the end of the 18th century, the
first maquinna welcomed strangers who came from half a world away. The
British, Spanish and Russians were all met with open arms, with the Spanish
establishing their only settlement in what became Canada."

The plaque-unveiling ceremony took place in Yuqout, the traditional home of
the Mowachaht First Nation and a national historic site of Canada, during
its 15th annual Summerfest -- a celebration recognizing the life, culture
and traditions of the Mowachaht.

"The Mowachaht people continue to welcome visitors to their lands to learn
and share their culture," added Dion. "Their history demonstrates the
interconnectedness of life and illustrates the deep spiritual bonds they
have with the environment."

The maquinnas join 587 similar people of national historic significance in
Canada, of whom only 31 are commemorated in British Columbia.

The commemoration marks the end of two years of effort by the
Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation to achieve the designation, which requires
numerous supporting documents and reports.

The plaque will be placed inside the church at Friendly Cove alongside a
similar one commemorating Yuquot as a national historic site until a
suitable cairn can be erected.