The Bluff Dwellers were the first known inhabitants of what is now Arkansas. These primitive people lived in caves and on rock shelves in northeastern Arkansas before 500 A.D. The Mound Builders, a more advanced people, flourished in southern Arkansas in later pre-Columbian times. The Quapaw, Caddo, and Osage Indians were in Arkansas when the white man began to explore. The Quapaw (originally Ugkhaph, later Arkansas), after whom the state was named, migrated from the Ohio Valley around 1500.

Important dates in Arkansas
1541 Hernando de Soto of Spain led an expedition to the region.
1673 Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet of France explored the Mississippi River in the region.
1682 Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed the Mississippi Valley for France.
1686 Henri de Tonty, a friend of La Salle, established a trading station at the mouth of the Arkansas River.
1803 The United States acquired Arkansas as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
1819 The Arkansaw Territory was formed from the Missouri Territory.
1836 Arkansas became the 25th state on June 15.
1861 Arkansas seceded from the Union.
1868 Arkansas was readmitted to the Union.
1874 Arkansas adopted its present constitution.
1921 The first oil well was drilled in the El Dorado field.
1957 National Guard units and federal troops helped enforce a court order to integrate Little Rock's Central High School.
1964 Orval E. Faubus became the first Arkansas governor to be elected to a sixth consecutive term.
1970 The Arkansas River Development Program opened the river to navigation from the Mississippi River to Oklahoma.
1993-2001 Former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton served as 42nd president of the United States.