South Dakota: where the buffalo roam…

south dakota state flag

North Dakota and South Dakota were both named for the Sioux Indian tribe known as the Dakota.

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Oklahoma: more than just a musical

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The Choctaw Indian tribe was commonplace in the area now known as Oklahoma prior to white settlers.  In Choctaw the words Okla and Humma translate into “red people” –the natives of the land before settlement.

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Oregon: where the sun don’t shine

oregon state flag

Originally spelled Ouragon the actual history of how Oregon got its name is quite ambiguous.  One possible explanation is that in a map engraved in the 1700’s the engraver mistakenly wrote Ouaricon-sint instead of the name for the Wisconsin river which was spelled Ouisiconsink at the time.  Because of the separation of the word from –sint, Ouaricon was taken to mean the area now known as Oregon.

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Rhode Island: the ocean state

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Rhode Island Colony was actually founded on what is now Aquidneck (near Newport).  The theory on how it got its name states the explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano remarked how present day Aquidneck reminded him of the Greek islands of Rhodes and hence the name Rhode Island was born.

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Tennessee: volunteers for a name

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Juan Pardo was one of three Spanish explorers to map the area that is now known as Tennessee. He derived the name from the word “Tanasqui” that was told to him by a local Indian village to describe the area.

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Utah: its Mormon country

utah state flag

This state was named by the Arapaho Indians who called it woo’teeneihi’ which means “place of the Utes”. The Utes were the native people of the area at the time of the naming.

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Vermont: its syrup-tastic

vermont state flag

Vermont was originally claimed by the French.  They saw the green mountains of the area and named the area “Vert Mont” or Green Mountain.

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Virginia: old dominion

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In the late 1500’s Queen Elizabeth I was sitting on the throne in England.  She was also known as the “Virgin Queen” and it is thought that Virginia is named after the virgin queen Elizabeth.

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Washington: the evergreen state

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This state’s origin should probably go without saying but its named after George Washington, the first president.

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West Virginia: There’s coal in them thar hills

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Along with Virginia, West Virginia derived its name from the “virgin queen” Queen Elizabeth I.

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