"Even my faithful Jasper has gone to the happy hunting grounds"
Depiction of a native American artist painting on buckskin (1902)
Public DomainDepiction of a native American artist painting on buckskin (1902) - Credit: E. Irving Couse

The happy hunting grounds is widely considered to be the term used by some native American tribes to describe their version of 'heaven'; in the words of one commentator, 'the term "happy hunting grounds" refers to a benevolent and Edenic afterlife in which game is plentiful and there for the taking'.

The phrase was first used by James Fenimore Cooper in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans, where the character Chingachgook, following the death of his son Uncas, says:

'Why do my brothers mourn! ... why do my daughters weep! that a young man has gone to the happy hunting grounds; that a chief has filled his time with honour.'

However, even though the phrase has been widely used in cinema and television Westerns, and has passed into popular usage, there is no clear evidence that it is an accurate translation or interpretation of an idea expressed originally in a native American language.