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History Lesson on the State of Arkansas There were people known as the Bluff Dwellers, who inhabited caves, probably lived in the Arkansas area before 500. They were followed by the Mound Builders, who received their name from the mounds they constructed, apparently for ceremonial purposes. The first Europeans to arrive in Arkansas (1541–42) were probably members of the Spanish expedition under Hernando De Soto. Later the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet came S along the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas River. A number of Native American groups, such as the Osage, Quapaw, and Caddo, lived in the vicinity.
In 1682, Robert La Salle's lieutenant, Henri de Tonti, established Arkansas Post, the first white settlement in the Arkansas area. La Salle claimed the Mississippi valley for France, and the region became part of the French territory of Louisiana. The French ceded the Louisiana territory to Spain in 1762 but regained it before it passed to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase (1803).
Arkansas became part of the Territory of Missouri in 1812. The cotton boom of 1818 brought the first large wave of settlers, and the Southern plantation system, moving west, fixed itself in the alluvial plains of S and E Arkansas. In 1819 the area was made a separate entity, and the first territorial legislature met at Arkansas Post. The capital was moved to Little Rock in 1821. Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836.