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Politics and Government

“Arkansas,” its leading newspaper once lamented, “has too much politics.” But while the state has seen plenty of noisy contention, healthy two-party competition has occurred only fitfully throughout its history. And the hoopla and hair-pulling of campaigns have typically been out of proportion to what state and local government actually did for—or required of—Arkansans. Pre-European Exploration Relatively little is known about how Arkansans were governed through the larger part of their past, there being no written records dating from before the era of European exploration. Archaeological evidence indicates that, by the Mississippian Period (AD 900–1600), the region harbored large settlements and intensive agriculture, its residents living in hierarchical societies governed by hereditary leaders exercising both political and religious authority. This …