The Ermineskin Cree Nation's two reserves (around Maskwacis, Alberta) total about 22,512 hectares and lived in an area around Pigeon Lake and the Bear Hills (known in Cree as Maskwacheesihkare). Therefore, they were called Maskwa Wachi-is Ininiwak, Maskwacheesihk Wiyiniwak or Amiskwacīwiyiniwak, meaning Bear Hills Cree. While the Ermineskin traditional territory includes the reserve lands, the reserve was formally established in 1885. The land houses substantial oil and gas deposits, agricultural land, and waterfront access to Pigeon Lake. The Canadian Pacific Railway line runs through the reserve.
The First Nation took its name from Ermineskin Kosikosowayano also known as Baptiste Piche), Chief of the Bear Hills Cree. He was the son of Peechee (Pisu - "Mountain Lion", also known as Louis Piche), Chief of the Asini Wachi Nehiyawak (Cree groups of the Rocky/Mountain Cree) and later head chief of the Rocky Mountain Cree (Asini Wachi Wi Iniwak or Asinīskāwiyiniwak) and also brother-in-law of Pitikwahanapiwiyin (′Poundmaker′), Chief of the River Cree (Sipi Wi Iniwak or Sīpīwininiwak). Ermineskin was the younger brother of the well-known Kiskiyo - Bobtail, also known as Alexis Piche), who became Chief of the Bear Hills Cree after the death of their father Louie Piche also known as Pisu) who was the chief of the Rocky Cree (Asini Wachi Wi Iniwak or Asinīskāwiyiniwak) and became later head chief of the Western Cree (‘Pakisimotan Wi Iniwak’) and soon after head chief of all the groups of the Upstream People (Natimiw Iyiniwak or Natimiyininiwak).