More than 15,000 Cree live in nine coastal and inland communities: Chisasibi, Eastmain, Mistissini, Nemaska, Oujé-Bougoumou, Waswanipi, Waskaganish, Wemindji and Whapmagoostui. Historically, the James Bay Cree were two distinct regional groups that were joined by economics and kinship. Five thousand years later, the Cree still refer to these two groups as wiinibeyk iiyuu (“salt water person”), and nuuchcimiihc iiyuu (“inland person”). We invite you to explore the map of the James Bay Territory, the land known to the Cree, as Eeyou Istchee.
The James Bay territory covers over 300,000 km2 (1/5 of the province of Québec) extending from the 49th to the 55th parallel. The territory is divided into three categories of land: Category-I includes land in and around Aboriginal communities, controlled solely by residents; Category-II refers to crown land shared with the Cree and the Inuit, exclusively as hunting, fishing and trapping territories; and Category-III lands are designated for the exclusive rights of Aboriginal people to use for traditional hunting and harvesting.
|Chisasibi||The great river||Cree Nation of Chisasibi|
|Eastmain||Lands east of James Bay||Cree Nation of Eastmain|
|Mistissini||Big rock||Cree Nation of Mistissini|
|Nemaska||Where the fish abound||Cree Nation of Nemaska|
Crossed by a river or The place where people gather
|Community of Oujé-Bougoumou|
|Waskaganish||Little house||The Crees of Waskaganish First Nation|
|Waswanipi||Lake where we are fishing under torch or Light on the river||Cree First Nation of Waswanipi|
|Wemindji||Red ochre mountain||Cree Nation of Wemindji|
|Whapmagoostui||White whale||Whapmagoostui First Nation|
The boreal forest stretches over the southern part of the land, the taïga further north. The existence of aurora borealis, a luminous phenomenon characterized by extremely colourful but predominantly green light which veils the night sky, adds to the beauty of the landscape. The region is composed of many rivers and lakes that are amongst the largest in the province.