By Richard F. Salisbury
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Extra resources for A Homeland for the Cree: Regional Development in James Bay, 1971-1981
2 By 1971 over a third of the population resided year-round in villages. Three of the bands lived in large villages. Mistassini and Fort George bands formed the largest villages, numbering almost 1,500 people each in the summer. Both drew hunters from vast ranges of territory that at one time had been served by subposts of the HBC, like that of Nitchequon to the northeast of Mistassini. Within the large villages the families that had earlier met at the subposts tended to form subgroups, erecting their tents near one another.
At Fort George another subgroup of a small number of Inuit also lived within the village. In Great Whale the small Cree band formed a subgroup within a large village, where the majority group was composed of Inuit who used the coast and the northerly tundra. These three large villages also housed numbers of whites, employed for the most part by the government, the churches, or the HBC, to operate the services of the villages or the radar base at Great Whale. There were in addition three smaller coastal Cree villages Rupert's House, with a population of 850, Eastmain with 270, and Paint Hills with 550.
Many boarded with private families, who received an allowance to cover their costs. For many who were unable to hunt during the winter, boarding children from other settlements was an important source of income. In the case of the health services, nursing stations in villages and a newly opened provincial hospital in Fort George provided medical care through white professional personnel. But again to maintain 27 Village-band Society in 1971 the buildings local janitorial staff was used, and in the hospital the kitchens and the nursing orderly positions absorbed a number of local people, especially women.