Arkansas State Study

ArkansasAs you use this Arkansas state study, we hope you’ll try some of the food, read a story that takes place here, read about some wacky facts, color a map, learn more about the Indian Tribes in the area, and add a little fun to your study.

History of Arkansas

Arkansas was first recorded in written history by Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer.  The tribes living in the region were the Quapaw, Cherokee, Caddo, and Osage.  The United States acquired the territory from the Louisiana Purchase.  Arkansas became a state in 1836 as a slave state.  The Mississippi Delta became a big producer of cotton and most of the slaves were held in this region.  Arkansas joined in the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.

An Arkansas sharecropping family in about 1935. Image in the public domain.

After the war the new government implemented universal male suffrage, while taking away the right to vote from supporters of secession and slavery, who were mostly democrats.  In the 1890’s Democrats regained control, and once again, disenfranchised the black population and poor whites by means of a literacy test and a poll tax.  By these means Arkansas became a one party powerhouse for decades until the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

This is a view of Arkansas, just south of the Ozark Mountain range, from atop Petit Jean Mountain. Photo by Brandonrush, released into the public domain.

Fabulous Facts

  • Arkansas is predominantly Protestant Christian and is part of the Bible Belt.
  • By law you MUST pronounce Arkansas “Ar-kun-saw”, don’t you dare say, “Ar-kan-sas”.
  • The only active diamond mine in the United States is here.
  • It’s illegal to wake a sleeping bear to photograph it . . . you just know someone did it with disastrous results.
  • Arkansas is the home of former President Bill Clinton and WalMart.
  • Alma, Arkansas claims to be the world spinach capital and has the water tower to prove it.
  • The Pacific Northwest has Big Foot, Arkansas has the Boogy Creek Monster, seven feet tall, hairy all over and loves livestock for dinner.
  • Dover, Arkansas has an operational double decker outhouse . . . um, make a note, places to avoid.
  • School teachers who bob their hair in Arkansas will not get a raise . . . hair discrimination.
  • Voters are allowed only five minutes to mark their ballot . . . ready, set, go!
  • Fabulous Food From the South: Try this bacon and green beans recipe.
This is the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. Photo by OakleyOriginals, CC license, Wikimedia.
  • Sports are a big deal in Arkansas.  Football is the most popular, except for maybe hunting.  Baseball brings up a strong third.
This is an Arkansas State AAA football championship game. Do not mess with football in Arkansas. Photo in the public domain, Wikimedia.
  • The Old State House in Little Rock is one of the most beautiful buildings of the antebellum South.
This is the Old State House in Little Rock. Lots of drama has gone on there, including a fatal knife fight between Arkansas legislators in 1837. Photo by Wasted Time R at en.wikipedia, CC license.
  • Mountain View, Arkansas spends all summer re-enacting pioneer culture of the Ozarks for its many visitors.
  • The official state bird is the mockingbird.
    Photo by Ken Thomas, released to the public domain, Wikimedia.

Map of Arkansas

Print this Arkansas Map for your kids to fill out.  Label the rivers, Ozark mountains, and the major cities.  Color the map.


Additional Layers

  • Nearly everyplace has its fantastic beasts and creatures.  What lurks in your neck of the woods?
  • People are talking once again about limiting the vote, to keep certain groups from voting (people are probably always talking about that).  What do you think?   Who should vote and why?
  • Learn about the Bible Belt, what and where is it?
  • What happened to the economies of the slave states after the civil war?  Was it a result of their having to give up slavery or something else?  How did slavery impact the economics of the south before and after?
  • Literature by Arkansans

Maya Angelou: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
John Grisham: the Pelican Brief
Bill Clinton: My Life
Charlie May Simon: Robin on the Mountain

  • Arkansas has a reputation for being a “hillbilly” state.  The reputation is from way back in the 1800’s when the area was first described by eastern visitors.  Do you think things have changed since then?  Why do reputations and stereotypes stick?
  • The Arkansas state flag is interesting.  Find out what the symbols on the flag stand for.

  • Find out more about the native people who lived in Arkansas before it became a US territory.
  • Think about the reasons people wanted to continue slavery.  Think about what they were willing to do to others to keep their slaves.  What sort of influence does the desire for wealth and power have over people?  Do you see that in the world today?  How can you guard against such temptations in your own life?

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