ARKANSAS, USA — Our home officially became a state in 1836 as the 25th state admitted to the Union. Today, natives of our state are commonly referred to as Arkansans.
However, that’s not the only true term for us Natural State natives. State historian and State Archives Director Dr. David Ware said that we actually have three-- Arkansan, Arkansian, and Arkansawyer.
"Arkansian shows up in the 1840’s. It’s really the first term to denote people from Arkansas. Arkansan, basically Arkansian but someone lost an "I" along the way. Maybe a typographical error that appears in the 1850's. Arkansawyer appears in print as far as we know in the 1870s," Dr. Ware said.
He said that it all goes back to the eclectic society of Little Rock and the state historical society coming together to decide how to pronounce and spell our state’s name.
“They put their heads together and came up with a lovely compromise to pronounce it one way and spell it another, and the legislature signs onto it in 1881," Dr. Ware said.
That compromise would take the shape of Arkansas Code Title One General Provisions 1-4-105: the pronunciation of Arkansas.
"The matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history and the early usage of the American immigrants,” the code reads.
So simply put, you spell the state as Ar-kan-sas, but pronounce it as Ar-kan-saw.
So that begs the question, is it correct to call natives of the state Arkansawyers? Well, Dr. Ware said that it's not an incorrect term.
"If you’re comfortable being called an Arkansawyer, it’s not a term of derision and it’s one of the traditional words of the people that come from here," Dr. Ware said.
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