||This article may contain parts that are misleading. (August 2012)
||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. (June 2008)
The happy hunting ground was the name given to the concept of the afterlife by several of the great plains Native American tribes, as well as the Iroquois, Cherokee and Algonquians. It is an afterlife conceived of as a paradise in which hunting is plentiful and game unlimited.
"I will follow the white man's trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children. Maybe they will outrun the white man in his own shoes. There are but two ways for us. One leads to hunger and death, the other leads to where the poor white man lives. Beyond is the happy hunting ground where the white man cannot go."
The Sioux commonly believe that after death, the spirit of the deceased person goes to the Happy Hunting Ground, unless they were scalped during their lifetime. This belief corresponds with the general Sioux belief that everything has a spirit; including trees, rocks, rivers and almost every natural entity. This therefore leads to the existence of an afterlife. The Native American tribes had many spiritual dances such as the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance, which directly refers to the spirits of the dead returning to life.
The name Happy Hunting Ground indicates the characteristics of this particular Native American afterlife tradition: the Happy Hunting Ground resembled the living world, but with much better weather and animals such as rabbit, deer and buffalo that were both plentiful and easy to hunt.