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How Did Arkansas Get Its Name? 

Many names of places in our state came from the languages of the explorers who discovered and lived in Arkansas. The Native Americans, Spanish, French and Americans all helped name places in our state. The word "Arkansas" came from the Quapaw Indians, 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.




Jacques Marquette, addressing the Quapaw Indians in Arkansas
in June 1673, while fellow explorer Louis Joliet looks on;
taken from John Hugh Reynolds’s Makers of Arkansas History.

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas
Libraries, Fayetteville, and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas



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