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Origin of "Arkansas"

Arkansas State Name Origin

Historic Marker for "THE 'LITTLE ROCK' - This rock outcropping, the namesake for the city that surrounds it, was so named to distinguish it from the "Big Rock" bluff which stands farther upriver on the other side. It served as a prominent landmark for the native Indians as well as early European and American travelers. The rock marked the beginning of the primary trail route to the southwest, and was also used as a boundary marker for the Quapaw Indian lands in their 1818 treaty. Originally a much larger natural formation, the consequences of man's development have greatly diminished its presence." Photo by Thomas23 on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).

What does "Arkansas" mean?

According to Arkansas Secretary of State's website, the name "Arkansas" originates with the native American Quapaw tribe "by way of early French explorers. The explorers met a group of Native Americans known as the Ugakhpah (which means "people who live downstream"). These Native Americans later were called the Quapaw, who were also called the Arkansaw. This name came to be used for the land where these Native Americans lived." All State Name Origins

Many places in Arkansas (and across the United States) have names that originate from native American, Spanish, and French languages. For example, the state capital of Arkansas (Little Rock). In 1722, French explorer Bernard de la Harpe landed near a small rock formation on the Arkansas River which he reportedly named "La Petite Roche" (The Little Rock). He built a trading post nearby, close to Quapaws residing in the area (the humble beginning of the capital city of Arkansas).