The Mushuau Innu and Sheshatshiu Innu:
The Innu were traditionally nomadic,. Traveling the interior of Labrador and Quebec in the winter to hunt mostly for caribou, and migrating back to the coast in the summer to fish. For the Innu, after a successful hunt, an important communal meal is held, known as the Mukushan. It is held in honour of the spirit of the caribou and continues to this day. The Innu are great storytellers. Many of the stories have been passed on for generations and include narratives on how the world began, how the sun was born, and other spiritual beliefs.
There is archeological evidence that Innu have been traveling the interior for over 7,000 years. Naskapi and Montagnais Indians were names given to the Innu by Europeans. Currently, the people of Natuashish call themselves Mushuau Innu while the people in Sheshatshiu call themselves Sheshatshiu Innu. In general “Innu” is the preferred and commonly used name.
To protect their interests, their land, and their rights, the Innu people began to organize themselves in 1976 under the Naskapi Montagnais Innu Association (NMIA). This later became the Innu Nation in 1990 which now forms the governing body of the Labrador Innu. This movement was imperative as their community, Davis Inlet, was unsafe without running water or electricity. This coupled with the disastrous affects of colonization lead to a community struggling with large amounts of addiction and trauma. With much work the community of Natuashish was founded in 2002. On December 11, 2003 the new community of Natuashish was set apart officially as reserve land for the Mushuau Innu First Nations.
Moving Towards the Future:
The reserve creation at Natuashish, along with the relocation of the Mushuau Innu, is part of a long-term strategy, to address the social challenges of the community. Moving the community has provided much easier access to inland ancestral hunting and fishing grounds. This is integral to healing the trauma caused by colonization. The strength of the Innu culture has proven to be remarkable. In spite of the tremendous pressure to assimilate, they have maintained a strong cultural orientation toward traditional homelands and their nomadic roots and way of life.