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Let's Get Historical!
What's in a Name?
 More of this Feature
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By Amanda Galiano

The name "Arkansas" reflects both our French and Indian heritage. The French explorers referred to the native Americans who lived in northern Arkansas as "Arkansaes" (meaning South Wind).

The spelling comes from early French usage and the precedent set by the Arkansas Gazette. The pronunciation was determined by the General Assembly of 1881 after much investigation. The name is pronounced "Ark-an-saw", not "Ark-an-sas". At one time it was against the law to mispronounce the name, so be careful out there!

Little Rock was actually named for a little rock. Early travelers used a stone outcropping on the bank of the Arkansas River as a landmark. "La Petite Roche" marked the transition from the flat Mississippi Delta region to the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Travelers would refer to the area as "the little rock" and the name stuck.

Arkansas is the "natural state" and our state motto is "regnat populus " (Latin for "the people rule").

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