A lot of debate exists regarding the origin of the name "Arizona." Some scholars claim the name was derived from Spanish/Basque or Tohono O'odham/Pima languages.* Another colorful definition from 1877 states:
"'The earth is the offspring of the sky. Long prior to the present race of men, the earth was peopled by a race of giants who in time died off, leaving the earth uninhabited. After a long time, a celestial virgin, a child of one of the thirteen great deities who rule all things, came down to the earth, and being well pleased, remained for a long time its sole inhabitant. Once when in a deep sleep, a drop of dew from heaven fell on her, and she conceived and bore two children, a son and daughter, from whom have sprung all the people of the earth. The name of this celestial virgin was Arizunna, the beautiful, or sun beloved maiden.' The Mohave language, which is by far the most perfect and complete of any of the Indian dialects of the country, has two words of nearly the same meaning: Ari, meaning the sun, holy, good, or beautiful; and Urnia, maid, or maiden; which together means the land of the beautiful of lovely maiden. This may be the true meaning of the word Arizona. Another definition is this, Ari, from the Mohave, meaning beautiful, or good, and Zona, from the Spanish, a zone, and taken together, meaning the land of the beautiful zone. Both of these definitions seem to be well made, and both are quite significant and expressive."**
The first section of the excerpt is claimed to hail from Aztec tradition. The second from the Mohave people, and the last a blend of both.
Whatever the true origin of the name, we can certainly agree that Arizona is a beautiful place.
|Photo by Diana DeLugan (c) 2012|
* "The Meaning of Arizona," Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, obtained online on 8/14/12 at http://www.azlibrary.gov/links/AZmeaning.aspx
**Hodge, Hiram C., Arizona As It Is; or, The Coming Country, H.O. Houghton and Company, New York: 1877.
See also: Garate, Donald T., Arizona (Never Arizonac), online courtesy of the National Parks Service at http://www.nps.gov/tuma/historyculture/upload/Arizonac%20Article.pdf.