Special Report

How Each State Got Its Name

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South Dakota
> Joined United States: Nov. 2, 1889 (40th state to join)
> Capital: Pierre
> Population: 877,790

Both North and South Dakota get their name from the Sioux word for “friend” or “ally,” though there is no definitive proof for this origin.

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> Joined United States: June 1, 1796 (16th state to join)
> Capital: Nashville
> Population: 6,782,564

The name “Tennessee” may have come from Creek and Cherokee words, but it is uncertain where the Volunteer State got its name. Spanish explorer Juan Pardo first recorded the name in 1567 as he and his soldiers passed through a Cherokee village called “Tanasqui.”

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> Joined United States: Dec. 29, 1845 (28th state to join)
> Capital: Austin
> Population: 28,704,330

“Texas” comes from the Native American Caddo word “teyshas,” which means “friends” or “allies.” Some Native American people like the Caddo or the Hasinais used the word as a greeting. In time, the word came to refer to the area north of the Rio Grande and east of New Mexico.

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> Joined United States: Jan. 4, 1896 (45th state to join)
> Capital: Salt Lake City
> Population: 3,159,345

Utah owes its origin to an Apache Indian word, “yuttahih,” that means “people of the mountains” or “they who are higher up.” In the Native American people’s language, the word “ute” means “land of the sun.”

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> Joined United States: March 4, 1791 (14th state to join)
> Capital: Montpelier
> Population: 623,960

French explorer Samuel de Champlain called the stunning Green Mountains of Vermont “Verd Mont,” which is French for “green mountain.”