Published on September 9, 2010 by Aquarius
The first European to reach Arkansas was the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, a veteran of Pizarro’s conquest of Peru who died near Lake Village on the Mississippi River in 1542 after almost a year traversing the southern part of the state in search of gold and a passage to China. Arkansas is one of several U.S. states formed from the territory purchased from Napoleon Bonaparte in the Louisiana Purchase. The early Spanish or French explorers of the state gave it its name, which is probably a phonetic spelling of the Illinois tribe’s name for the Quapaw people, who lived downriver from them. Other Native American tribes who lived in Arkansas before moving west were the Quapaw, Caddo, and Osage nations. In their forced move westward (under U.S. Indian removal policies), the Five Civilized Tribes inhabited Arkansas during its territorial period.
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