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"Some claim the Southwestern state's name comes from the Spanish zona arida, translated as "arid zone."
"Another version states it comes from a Tohono O'odham village about 25 miles sowthwest of Nogales, called Ali-Shonak, meaning "Place of the Small Spring." Ali-Shonak didn't easily roll off Spanish tongues, so the Spanish corrupted it to Arizonac or Arisona. When the Americans arrived more than a century later, following the 1854 Gadsden Purchase, they corrupted it again to Arizona.
"The late Don Garate, chief of interpretation and historian at Tumacacori National Historical Park, disputed that claim. He stated the name originated from the Basque term arizonac, translated as the "good oak trees."
"In 1736, when boulders of silver, some reportedly as large as 4,000 pounds, where discoverd near Ali-Shonak, a legion of miners or gambusinos converged there. Given the region's abundant oak trees, Basque residents called the place Arizona.
"Garate noted at least a dozen other places in teh New World with the name Arizona, including in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras and Columbia. Large numbers of Basque lived in all those areas, among the oak trees, which provided the acorns the Basques fed to their pigs, as they had done in their home country of Spain."
Extracted from True West magazine, Sep 2014 issue, page 110