In the past, the Naskapis were nomadic and followed caribou herds over Nuchimiyuschiiy, from Hudson Bay in the west to the Labrador Coast in the east, and from the southern coast of Ungava Bay in the north to the vicinity of Labrador City in the south. First linked to Fort Chimo, near present-day Kuujjuaq, in the 1830s, the Naskapis relocated several times between Fort Chimo, Fort Nascopie, Fort McKenzie and the Schefferville area, settling to varying extents depending on the location and period. They eventually moved permanently to their newly built community of Kawawachikamach, 12 km northeast of Schefferville, in the early 1980s.
Despite their sedentation, the Naskapis still pursue their traditional way of life and continue to travel over Nuchimiyuschiiy to hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting sites, culturally relevant places and other locations.
In 1978, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach entered into the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) with the Governments of Québec and Canada. A modern treaty within the meaning of s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Northeastern Québec Agreement was entered into in the same historical and political context as the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA), and effectively puts the Naskapis on the same footing as Québec’s treaty partners, as the Crees and the Inuit under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement.
Both the Northeastern Québec Agreement and James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement establish the land regime for the Territory formerly known as Rupert’s Land. They also establish “areas of interest” and Caribou Zones with respect to the regime governing hunting, fishing and trapping activities. Namely, the Northeastern Québec Agreement establishes the Naskapi Area of Primary Interest and the Area of Common Interest for the Inuit and Naskapis, which together form the Naskapi Sector, as well as the Inuit-Naskapi Caribou-Zone and the Cree-Naskapi Caribou-Zone, all of which cover most of the northeastern portion of the province of Québec. These areas include a significant part of the mineral-rich area known as the Labrador Trough, where mining development has taken place since the 1950s.
The Nation has also an unsettled land claim in Labrador.