DNR Gives Approval to Lake Calhoun Name Change

DNR Gives Approval to Lake Calhoun Name Change Photo: KSTP

January 18, 2018 04:19 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced its approval of the decision to change the name of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis to Bde Maka Ska, its original Dakota name.

The decision was announced Thursday afternoon, effectively making the name change official for state purposes, DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr said.


The lake's name change will actually become official in Minnesota when the DNR's approval is recorded by Hennepin County and published in the State Register.

Landwehr said that is expected to happen within around two weeks.

The DNR will submit the Hennepin County resolution, along with the state's approval, to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names which will approve or deny the name change for federal use.

But Landwehr said Thursday's decision represents final approval when it comes to the state.

"The name change is final by virtue of the department's decision," Landwehr said in a teleconference regarding the decision. "The federal government still has to approve it for their use in maps and things like that. But for all intents and purposes, today's approval makes it official from a state standpoint."

RELATED: New Letter to DNR Commissioner Continues Fight Over Lake Calhoun Name Change

The move comes after objections arose to the Lake Calhoun name because of former Vice President John C. Calhoun's involvement with treaties that removed Native Americans from their land. There were also objections to the fact Calhoun was a slave owner, and a supporter of the practice.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved the name change by a 4-3 vote in November.

RELATED: Newspaper Ad Questions Origin of Lake Calhoun Name

Opponents of the name change recently sent a letter to Landwehr, urging that the application to change the lake's name be rejected, arguing the board did not have "the authority or jurisdiction to entertain the change of name" under state law.

A statement from Hennepin County, however, said the county board complied with its statutory obligations and consulted with the DNR about the process.

Landwehr said Thursday that the DNR determined everything had been in compliance. And that the department's legal counsel had advised the DNR indeed had the statutory authority to approve the name change.

RELATED: County Board Approves Name Change for Lake Calhoun


Frank Rajkowski

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