Reader Adam from Fairfax, Virginia, wrote in to ask, “How did the US states get their names?” This week, we’re tackling the origins and meaning of the names 10 states at a time. Here’s South Dakota through Wyoming.
(Be sure to also check out Monday’s post on Alabama through Georgia, Tuesday’s post on Hawaii through Maryland, Wednesday’s post on Massachusetts through New Jersey, and Thursday's post on New Mexico through South Carolina.)
North and South Dakota both take their names from the Dakota, a tribe of Siouan people who lived in the region. No detailed etymology of Dakota is widely accepted, but the most common explanation is that it means “friend” or “ally” in the language of the Sioux.