Jan 4, 2019

What's in a Name, Kansas and Arkansas

Have you ever wondered why they are pronounced differently? This is why.

Kansas was named for the Kansa, a Siouan tribe that lived in the region. The Kansa people were called, in plural, Kansas, and that became the name of the state.

Arkansas was named for a related Siouan tribe, the Quapaw. The Algonquians called them “akansa,” joining their own a- prefix (used in front of ethnic groups) to the Kansa name. It took some time for Arkansans to come to agreement on pronunciation. In 1881, a heated disagreement between the state's two senators, one who said “arKANzis” and the other who said “ARkansaw,” led to a ruling by the state legislature making the “ARkansaw” pronunciation official.