Home HistoryArkansas History Why we say ‘Arkansas’ that way

Why we say ‘Arkansas’ that way

by The 100 Companies
Why we say ‘Arkansas’ that way

You’ve likely found yourself engaged in discussions about why it’s “ArkanSAW” instead of “ArKANSAS.” History has a simple answer.

French explorers settled in the 1600s and referred to the native Quapaw people as “Arkansas,” or “People of the South Wind.” French language dictates the “s” ending a word is almost always silent, hence the “Arkansas” of today.

Pronunciation was ultimately decided in 1881 as a compromise between two senators who couldn’t agree which was correct. The General Assembly declared spelling would remain “Arkansas,” but we should all say “Arkansaw” moving forward. They even passed a law to enforce the latter.

– Kristie Coggins, The 100 Companies

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