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Wisconsin (i/w sk ns n/) is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is considered part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsins capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee. As of 2010 the state has 5,686,986 residents. The state contains 72 counties. The word Wisconsin originates from the name given to the Wisconsin River by one of the Algonquian speaking American Indian groups living in the region at the time of European contact.French explorer Jacques Marquette was the first European to reach the Wisconsin River and record its name, arriving in 1673 and calling the river Meskousing in his journal. This spelling was later corrupted to Ouisconsin by other French explorers, and over time this version became the French name for both the Wisconsin River and the surrounding lands. English speakers anglicized the spelling to its modern form when they began to arrive in greater numbers during the early 19th Century. The current spelling was made official by the legislature of Wisconsin Territory in 1845. Throughout the course of its many variations, the Algonquian word for Wisconsin and its original meaning have both grown obscure. Interpretations may vary, but most implicate the river and the red sandstone that line its banks. One leading theory holds that the name originated from the Miami word Meskonsing, meaning “it lies red,” a reference to the setting of the Wisconsin River as it flows by the reddish sandstone of the Wisconsin Dells. Numerous other theories have also been widely publicized, including claims that name originated from one of a variety of Ojibwa words meaning “red stone place,” “gathering of the waters,” or “great rock.” Wisconsin has been home to a wide variety of cultures over the past twelve thousand years. The first people arrived around 10000 BCE during the Wisconsin Glaciation. These early inhabitants, called Paleo-Indians, hunted now-extinct ice age animals exemplified by the Boaz mastodon, a prehistoric mastodon skeleton unearthed along with spear points in southwest Wisconsin. After the ice age ended around 8000 BCE, people in the subsequent Archaic period lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering food from wild plants. Agricultural societies emerged gradually over the Woodland period between 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. Towards the end of this period, Wisconsin was the heartland of the “Effigy Mound culture,” which built thousands of animal-shaped mounds across the landscape. Later, between 1000 and 1500 CE, the Mississippian and Oneota cultures built substantial settlements including the fortified village at Aztalan in southeast Wisconsin.1 The Oneota may be the ancestors of the modern Ioway and Ho-Chunk tribes, who shared the Wisconsin region with the Menominee at the time of European contact.1 Other American Indian groups living in Wisconsin when Europeans first settled included the Ojibwa, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie, who migrated to Wisconsin from the east between 1500 and 1700.1

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