Basque Fact of the Week: Arizona may be a Basque Word

Donald T. Garate, an interpreter and historian for the National Park Service, found evidence that the name Arizona may be of Basque origin. According to his research, Arizona was originally a rancheria or village established by Bernardo de Urrea sometime between 1734 and 1736. When silver was discovered nearby, the name Arizona became much more noteworthy.

Image from the Daily Courier.
  • Arizona, as a Basque word, would mean “good oak.”
  • The theory that Arizona was of Basque origin was originally proposed in 1979 by William Douglass, founder of what is now the Center for Basque Studies.
  • The alternate theory is that Arizona comes from a Native American language, O’odham, phrase al? ?onak, meaning “small spring.”

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