Adobe A type of mud brick used to build huge apartment houses in the American Southwest before the arrival of the Europeans.

Badlands An area of wind-sculpted rock formations and arid climate in western North Dakota.

Black Hills A collection of low mountains that rise right off of the floor of the Great Plains. Considered sacred by the Sioux Indians.

Buckeye Both Ohio's state tree and the mascot of the Ohio State University.

Cahokia A large pre-Columbian Native American settlement that at one time was home to almost 40,000 people.

Cajun French-Canadian refugees and their descendants, and the culture they've developed in Louisiana's swamp area.

Confederacy A political unit that consists of smaller groups coming together to form a larger, not very cohesive group (differing from a “union,” which is a tighter-knit grouping).

Conifer A type of tree that has needles for leaves and drops cones in order to reproduce, rather than dropping seeds as deciduous trees do.

Continental Divide The crest of the Rocky Mountains and the spine of the continent. On the east side of this divide, all water runs east, into the Atlantic; on the west side, all water runs west, into the Pacific.

Croatoan A mysterious Native American word found carved on a doorpost of a house in the empty “lost colony” of Roanoke, North Carolina.

DelMarVa Peninsula A peninsula that separates Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, and takes its name from the abbreviations for the three states that occupy parts of it: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Delta A triangular piece of land made up of deposited river silt, and always found at the mouth of a river.

Fundamental Orders Connecticut's first set of colonial governing rules.

Geoduck A rare species of giant clam found only in and around Washington state's Puget Sound.

Hessians Soldiers from Germany hired by King George III of England to fight against the rebels during the American Revolution.

Humuhumunukunukuapuaa The Hawaiian state fish. We call them triggerfish.

Iroquois A powerful Native American confederation of several tribes in Western New York. Called themselves “Ho-de-no-sau-nee.”

Kan-Tuck-Kee An Algonquian phrase that means “Dark and Bloody Ground.” The modern state of Kentucky gets its name from this phrase.

Lake Chargoggmaunchaugagoggchaubungun-gamaugg A small lake (more like a pond) in Massachusetts whose name comes from the agreement two tribes of Native Americans came to about the use of it: “You fish on your side of the lake and I'll fish on my side of the lake, and nobody fishes in the middle.”

Louisiana Purchase The largest land sale in recorded history, where France sold all of its remaining New World possessions to the United States.

Mesa Spanish for “table.” It refers to the type of rocky butte that in this case has a very flat top. Found mostly in the desert southwest.

Moraine Any boulders, trees, rocks, soil, or other material left behind by a retreating glacier.

Mormon Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or referring to something about this church.

MuskogeanA language family among the Native American tribes who lived all over the South.

Nomad A person or a group of persons who do not settle down and stay in one place. Rather, they travel all over, hunting herd animals, and so on.

Opechancanough Pocahontas's uncle, who fought the settlers at Jamestown.

Over-fishing What happens when fishermen catch too many of a type of fish, not leaving enough to replenish themselves. It leads to extinction of those fish.

Panhandle A nickname for a narrow section of a state or country that juts out away from the rest of the state.

Pequot A tribe of Native Americans who fought a disastrous and bloody war with English colonists in New England during the seventeenth century.

Piedmont A collection of rolling hills, usually fertile, and usually lying as transitional ground between coastal lowlands and higher elevations.

Powhatan The title (like “chief” or “king”) used by Pocahontas's father, who ruled the Powhatan confederation.

Pueblo Referring both to the mud-brick cities of the farmers of the early southwest and to the tribes themselves.

Puritan A member of the Church of England who wanted to reform, or “purify,” the church.

Rural Describes a place that is not in a city or suburb, that is still wild, with few roads or houses. A country setting.

Secession When one part of a country or state attempts to leave that country or state.

Sooner A nickname for a resident of Oklahoma that refers to filing a land claim “sooner” than his competitors.

Stalactite An icicle-shaped piece of rock that hangs from cave ceilings.

Stalagmite Like a stalactite, except that it thrusts up from the floor of the cavern.

Suffrage The right to vote in an election.

Tejas Spanish word for “friends.” We get the name for our state of Texas from this word. Actually, it's the Spanish spelling of a Caddo word taysha, which means “friend” or “ally.”

Tornado A weather phenomenon that causes winds to blow in tighter and tighter circles.

Unicameral Comes from the Latin word meaning “one house.” In this case, it refers to the fact that Nebraska's state government only has one house of government, not two (such as a house of representatives and a senate) like most states do.

Yellowhammer Alabama's state bird.

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