Eastmain, ᐙᐸᓅᑖᐤ/Wâpanûtâw, meaning "Lands east of James Bay", is located on the east coast of James Bay, on the south shore of the Eastmain River. The territory of Eastmain, designated as Category 1 land, is comprised of 489.53 square kilometers. The town itself has about 8 kilometers of, now paved, roads and is accessible year round by a gravel access road and via Air Creebec.
The Cree are the largest group of First Nations in Canada, with 220,000 members and 135 registered bands. Eastmain is one of the nine communities that make up the Cree Nation; one of four Cree communities that are located on the eastern shore of James Bay. The Cree Nation population is about 18,000 living in Eeyou Istchee, meaning "The People's Land".
With a population of over 850, the main economic activities of the community are its services sectors. This would include a restaurant within a hotel, private businesses, and a construction company with a gas station and garage. Eastmain is also the headquarters for the Cree Regional Trappers, whose role is to support all local Cree Trappers by maintaining the practices of their traditional activities. Other services include its emergency service departments, local radio station, post office, local schools, government service sectors, sports and recreation complex, local development corporation, a Wellness Centre, and local medical services.
The first contact with the Crees, though some reports show the first contact may have been even earlier, occurred in 1610 during the explorations of Henry Hudson. As a result, the trading outposts were established in the region and the fur trade boomed. This led to the creation of the Hudson Bay Company.
Eastmain got its name in 1730 by the local Hudson Bay trading post that had become the company's trading headquarters for the east coast of James Bay and Hudson Bay. The town was originally located on the north shore of the Eastmain River, but in 1762, Eastmain was re-located to the south shore because it provided easier access to the town from the James Bay.
The Hudson Bay Company trading post brought commercial trading to the community and the company maintain a presence in the area, until recently, because the area was rich in natural resources and was famous for its trout, whitefish, and pike. As trading became more of a custom, Cree people began to settle in the area and the community of Eastmain was established in the early 18th century, however, the territory was reserved for the use of the Crees under the lands and forests Act only in 1962.