Arkansas will celebrate the 186th anniversary of its statehood | New
The American flag has featured 50 stars since 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union. This means that more than six decades have passed since the last expansion of the United States, long after Arkansas was admitted as the 25th state.
In fact, June 15 marks 186 years since The Natural State became a state. Events over the next nearly two centuries have profoundly shaped and influenced the history, culture and direction of our state. This week, as we mark the anniversary of that occasion, we have the opportunity to look back on the unfolding history of Arkansas and renew our hope in the promise of an even brighter future.
From the Quapaw tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the land when French and Spanish explorers discovered it – giving rise to the name Arkansas first in reference to the native residents and then to the territory itself – to the citizens who reside here today we all understand how majestic this place is and why it is so special.
It also partly helps explain the nicknames Arkansas has acquired over time, including The Wonder State, The Land of Opportunity, and now The Natural State.
There is a clear and deep appreciation for the magnificent geographic range it presents. Over time, this reality has helped attract visitors from across the country and around the world to experience and enjoy what the state legislature has officially described as “unparalleled scenery, clear lakes, flowing streams free, beautiful rivers, meandering bayous, delta shoals, forested mountains, and an abundance of fish and wildlife” easily found here.
But it’s not just land and natural resources that help set it apart. We know that the people and communities here are also an integral part of Arkansas history.
Like most other states, this land was once a frontier that held promise and risk for settlers seeking a new beginning. This spawned a thriving society that spread to every corner of modern Arkansas. Demographics and population centers continue to change, but Arkansans remains true to its unique heritage and the wonderful traditions that bring families, friends and neighbors together.
Folklore like the Arkansas Traveler and community celebrations like the Pink Tomato Festival in Bradley County or the Gillett Coon Supper demonstrate a shared sense of identity that unites us and invites people to be part of something greater than ‘themselves.
These events, and the cities that host them, are proud of the rich heritage they represent.
The State is not the only entity to take a step forward this year. The communities of Lonoke, Judsonia and Brinkley are all 150 years old, while Joiner and Smackover celebrate their centenary in 2022.
The opportunities to celebrate Arkansas and what sets it apart never fail. The 186 years since it became a state is a testament to the resilience of our people and the institutions we have built. No natural disaster or man-made crisis has yet been able to conquer our minds or bring us down so low that we cannot rise again.
As we look to the future, I am confident that we will continue to follow paths that will help future generations of Arkansans prosper while improving our state on many fronts. That’s exactly what we did by bridging the gaps, finding common ground and putting our motto into action – Regnat Populus, “the people rule”.
This state and its people aren’t giving up, and that won’t change when we celebrate the next anniversary or an exciting historical moment.