The History of Mistissini is richly told through the history of the families that built our community. We have created a list of some of the main families that reside in our community and the history of their names. You can see a museum of these names at the Auberge Mistissini Lodge in Mistissini.
Community history is the history of people. The families that helped to shape our community come from many places surrounding Mistassini lake, and Eeyou Istchee. We are proud of the legacy they have contributed and continue to add to the story of Mistissini.
According to a conversation with Ronnie Loon, his mother came from Chisasibi; his dad from Eastmain. He comes from a large family. There is only one elder member of the Loon family left as Isaac passed away in March of 2020.
Neoskweskau a popular meeting place is in the M-20 territory. Neoskweskau had four cabins belonging to the trading post. Tents were built in the southern spot of the campsite.
According to William Matoush their grandfather – “Maatoush” was from Waskaganish. The name Matoush possibly came from “Maahtis” which means flint.
M-16 Peter Matoush used to hunt near Neoskweskau, but he moved a lot to hunt with other people in various hunting territories of the Mistissini people i.e. in the Indicator Lake arrea, Williams lake, “Chishe waapishchekaas” means “greater area of white moss”. A favourite hunting/camping of the Matoush family is William’s lake, as it was named after the late William Matoush Sr by a Hudson’s Bay Company Store manager/fur trader, Mr. Glenn Speers.
Because Peter Matoush was aware of the different groups of Crees and because of his knowledge of the hunting territories in Northern regions William believes it was the reason why he was chosen to be chief. Because of his knowledge of the land he assisted the Beaver preserves program with the Indian Agent and the Wardens of Beaver management that put a hold on beaver trapping for five years. It was also then that the hunters were registered as tallymen of specific hunting territories.
A favourite historical hunting spot of the Mianscum family was “Maakw Uhchuukaas” which menas loon’s ear, before they would go to their hunting territory.
“Niibuish” eventually spelled Neeposh came from an old man called “Niibuish” back in the days when our people carried only one name. The name “Niibuish” means standing up.
Was a traditional trapline of the Neeposh family and is a territory characterized by the “chenwapuushkaausiipii,” the Broadback River. The meaning of the name has to do with the fact that there are long forest fire-burnt areas along the river. It is a well known river to the local people of Mistissini.
Matthew Neeposh Sr. was a respectable elder in the community and one of his daughters Edna has made several important contributions to the people of Mistissini and Eeyou Istchee in areas of recognition of political rights and development of modern and social services. Edna Neeposh was a part of the Band Administration for over 20 years as a Director of Human Resources.
Petawabano should be pronounced “Piihtuwaapaniyuu” which means the morning sun between layers of clouds that produces different layers of reddish and yellow colours. They are one of the larger families that live in the Cree Nation of Mistissini.
The late Jean-Baptiste Petawabano noted three hunting spots that were favourites amongst hunters on the M23 trapline. Waapushuchiih (which means “rabbit mountain”, “Kaa Mista Naatwaayach” (place of a big bend in the river) and “Uteshiniimiiskuusaakahiikan”, named after a nearby high mountain just over two thousand feet high called “Uteshiniimisk”. Moose can be obtained from all three of these areas.
Smally was Chief (1963-1976) for 13 years for the Cree Nation of Mistissini. Smally remembers being told in 1936 when the first Indian Agent came to Mistissini, he gave last names of the people when they were first registered under Indian Affairs. The agent usually took the name of the grandfather or the great grandfather and used it as a surname for sibling families. For many others the surnames were interpreted into English, for example “Waapushuyaan”, became Rabbitskin, or slightly changed for easier pronunciation.
The meaning of the name could be two possibilities: if pronounced “shuuhkaapeu” it means “strong man” and if pronounced “ashakapoo” it means to step back. The latter pronunciation is most likely origin of the surname. It was translated to Shecapio.
The late Isaac Shecapio Sr. family made their camp around a particualr lake called “Aashimwaakush” that carried many stories. “Aashimwaakush” means “little arctic loon”. It was given this name because of a particular loon that evaded gun shots from an old man who became obsessed with getting this particular loon.
Johnny Shecapio is the son of a respectable late elder Abraham Shecapio Sr. Johnny taught at the school for many years. A quote from Johnny stated “the spiritual aspect of life as a hunter cannot be told, it has to be experienced”. Johnny felt that teaching children Cree culture was an important part of connecting to the spirit of the land and our ancestors.
Yes, we are always looking for more stories, and histories to expand what we have presented here.
Send us a message a email@example.com and we will update the information.
The stories and history come from elders, as well as Adrian Tanner’s historical research of the Mistissini hunters.
Yes, as long as you can provide a good quality photo and a description. We welcome any submissions that expand the content of our history pages.
The Social and Cultural Development department manages the digitization and historical photos of the Cree Nation of Mistissini.
If available, we can provide you with a digital copy of a scanned photo.
An exhibit of the family names is available at the Auberge Mistissini Lodge. You are welcome to visit to learn more about the history of Mistissini and its people.
Not at this time, but we do plan to translate this into an audio version of Cree.
187 Main Street, Mistissini, Eeyou Istchee, G0W1C0
Monday – Thursday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm,
Friday: 8:30am – 3:00pm