States Named After Indian Tribes

Twenty-six states in the United States are named after North American Indian tribes. These tribes settled in various regions of the country such as the northeast, southeast, northwest, Midwest and southwest. Having wielded influence over these territories, the names of these Indian tribes remained a permanent fixture in states such as Alabama, North Dakota, Missouri and Utah.

  1. Alabama

    • This state was named after the local Indian tribe "Alibamu." Indians had occupied this area more than 10,000 years ago. Also known as the "Heart of Dixie," Alabama became the 22nd state to join the union in 1819. In addition to playing a major role in the American Civil War, Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, became the Confederacy's first capital. After the war, segregation emerged between blacks and whites throughout the southern region of the United States. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the pivotal moments that took place in Alabama during the American Civil Rights movement.

    North Dakota

    • North Dakota, which means "allies," got its name from the Sioux tribe. The land that comprises North Dakota became an official territory of the United States in 1803 as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. The state had a small population until the 1800s when a railroad system was introduced. In 1889 North Dakota officially became a state. In the quest for statehood, North Dakota and South Dakota battled against each other for their respective states to receive admission into the union first. During the formal admission of statehood, President Benjamin Harrison signed the bills to declare each territory a state. However, it is unknown which state was selected first, although North Dakota typically appears at the forefront in documentation.


    • Named after the Indian tribe "Missouri," meaning the town of large canoes, this area formally became a state in 1821. Also known as the "Show Me State," Missouri contributed significantly to the transportation and commerce during the early years of the United States. The St. Louis arch is a popular monument that signifies Missouri as the "Gateway to the West" of the United States.


    • This state was named after the Ute tribe. Utah is an Indian word that refers to the "people of the mountains." The state is filled with mountains, high plateaus and deserts that form its landscape. Utah is unique state as it is the only state that meets other states at perfect right angles. It became the 45th member of the Union on January 4, 1896 and declared Salt Lake City as its capital.

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