For well over 100 years historians have searched and argued over the genesis of the name, Arizona. In the mid-1940s a consensus was reached that the name, Arizona, probably came from two words from the Akimel O'odham People (the River People and more commonly known as the Pima) language, Ali-Shonak that translated to mean “place of the small spring.” In fact we taught this meaning, "Place of the Small Spring" to our students for years.
Yet through the years others have suggested that Arizona comes from the Mexica (Ma-she-ka or Aztec) word “arizuma” meaning “silver-bearing” or some word from some language meaning, “arid-zone.” The debate has raged on for years. Now and as a result of years of hard work, travel and research by one Arizona National Park Ranger there just may be an agreement as to the true origin of the name, Arizona.
For the past 25 years National Park Ranger, Don Garate', of Tumacacori National Monument has been researching Spanish historical records to determine where and when the word, Arizona, first appeared in official Spanish documents. His efforts have resulted in a new idea, rooted in historical facts, as to the origin of our state’s wonderful name.
It seems that in 1736 at a place some 40 miles south of Tumacacori National Monument and about 10 miles below today’s international border, boulders of silver were discovered on a ranch owned by a Basque rancher, Bernardo de Urrea. The silver strike was officially recorded as Planchas de Plata and one boulder was recorded to weigh up to 2500 pounds. All together over 4,000 pounds of silver were recovered from this strike.
The land and canyons that encompassed Urrea’s ranch were covered with oak trees and thus he was calling the area of his ranch “Aritzonac.” In the Basque language “aritz’ means oak and “on” translates to good and “a” means the – “the good oak” tree. Add a “c” to make it plural, Aritzonac, and now it means “the good oak trees.” It is an easy transition from Aritzona to Arizona.
We believe that Ranger Garate’s research has now put an end to the years and years of debate as to how the name Arizona came into use. If you are interested in reading more about Ranger Don Garate's work, check out this link - www.nps.gov/tuma/historyculture/arizona-planchas-de-plata.htm
|Over the years, five flags have flown over Arizona - the flag of King Carlos III, the Castilian Flag, the flag of Mexico, the flag of the Confederate States of America and Old Glory, flag of the United States of America.|