Nascapees, and Nehiroirini or Montagnais, Indian tribes of Labrador, the most easterly division of the great Algonquin nation. The Nehiroirini, called Montagnais by the French Canadians, now occupy the territory from the Saguenay to the straits of Belle Isle; but when the French first settled Quebec they held the valley of the St. Lawrence from above that point. They were always friendly to the settlers, but were driven back by the Iroquois and the want of game to their present location, the Esquimaux retiring before them. The Catholic missions among them established in Cham-plain's time are still maintained; but they are hunters, and cannot be made cultivators. The caribou is their chief game. They dress well in skins or purchased clothing, but live in wretched cabins of poles covered with bark and branches, often pitched on the snow or damp grounds. La Brosse, the last of the old Jesuit missionaries, taught them generally to read and write, and this knowledge is still maintained by family instruction. They numbered in 1872 about 1,700 in various bands at Point Bleu, Chicoutimi, Moisie, the Seven Islands, Cascapediac, and River Godbout. The Nascapees or Naskapis (i. e, people standing upright) occupy the table land in the interior from Lake Mistassini to the Atlantic. They are shorter and lighter than the Montagnais, with clear-cut features and large eves.
Their language is so near the Montagnais that they talk with each other without difficulty. They are slovenly in their persons and careless, often in want, and driven even to acts of cannibalism. Missions have benefited some bands only. They telegraph by fires on high places, and mark their routes by poles with bark pendents. They believe in a great spirit and in Atshem, a spirit of evil. The government returns of 1870 put their number at 2,860. These two tribes have been styled by Gallatin and others Sheshapootosh and Scoffies, names unknown in Canada and derived only from an ignorant Micmac boy. Grammars and dictionaries of the Montagnais by missionaries at various dates exist in manuscript, but only devotional works have been printed in the language.