Arkansas History

The name ‘Arkansas’ was derived from the early name, Akansea, a phonetic spelling of the Illinois word for the Quapaw. Although Arkansas’ land was originally used by several Indian tribes for hunting and trapping, its main inhabitants were the Quapaw tribe. However, early French explorers gave the territory its final version of the name: Arkansas. It became part of the U.S. via the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, was established as Arkansas Territory in 1819, and gained its statehood by being admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836. A plantation economy which heavily relied on slave labor, the Civil War resulted in Arkansas turning into a poor rural state based on cotton production. In the 1940’s, prosperity returned to the state and has yielded political leadership such as Bill Clinton (Governor 1979-81 and 1983-92), and is the home base for the Walmart corporation in Bentonville, Arkansas in NWA. The Quapaw tribe was removed to a reservation in northeast Oklahoma in 1833, at the hand of Secretary Robert Crittenden being instrumental in this final removal. Women during this early frontier period were typically considered “kept indoors”, while men were away conducting business. While it was concluded they were mainly just housewives, women were tasked with the daily operations of the farm (dealing with slave overseers and actual farm labor); they typically began the schools and churches in communities, and they were primary healthcare providers since there were so few doctors available. Childbirth was a very dreaded experience being that it often resulted in the mother dying in the process. Essentially, these early frontier women were juggling many different balls giving them anxiety, between childbirth, being a primary health care provider, and chief farm operator – talk about multi-tasking!