Special Report

How Your State Got Its Name

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Kansas
> Joined United States: Jan. 29, 1861 (34th state to join)
> Capital: Topeka
> Population: 2,918,515

Kansas gets its name from the Native American Kaws or Kansa people, also a Sioux tribe. They derived the name from the Sioux word for “southwind.” The Kansa people are also referred to as “people of the south wind.”

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Kentucky
> Joined United States: June 1, 1792 (15th state to join)
> Capital: Frankfort
> Population: 4,472,265

There are several different theories regarding the name “Kentucky,” though it has a Native American origin. Kentucky comes from the Iroquois word “ken-tah-ten,” which means “land of tomorrow.” The other possible meanings for “Kentucky” that derive from the Iroquois language are: “meadow,” “prairie,” and “the river of blood.”

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Louisiana
> Joined United States: April 30, 1812 (18th state to join)
> Capital: Baton Rouge
> Population: 4,682,509

There is no disputing the origin of Louisiana’s name. The home of Cajun cooking and jazz music was named in honor of King Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, by explorer René-Robert Cavelier in the mid-1600s.

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Maine
> Joined United States: March 15, 1820 (23rd state to join)
> Capital: Augusta
> Population: 1,341,582

Maine’s name might have originated from Royal Navy mariners Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason, who received a charter for what would become Maine and used the name to differentiate the mainland from the islands around it.

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Maryland
> Joined United States: April 28, 1788 (7th state to join)
> Capital: Annapolis
> Population: 6,079,602

The state of Maryland, which as a colony, was founded as a haven for Catholics persecuted in England, was named to honor Queen Henrietta Maria, the Catholic wife of England’s King Charles I.

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