Minnesota Supreme Court rules Bde Maka Ska name will remain for metro lake

Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the body of water that was once named Lake Calhoun will remain named Bde Maka Ska.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources changed the name in 2018, but others say DNR officials didn't have the right to change the name.

Minnesota Supreme Court to hear arguments on Bde Maka Ska naming process

The focus of the case was whether the DNR had the authority to change the name of the lake.

The lake's previous name, Lake Calhoun, was given in honor of former Vice President John Calhoun. However, the name came under fire after officials learned Calhoun supported slavery.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison represented the DNR in front of the Supreme Court. He issued a statement praising the court's ruling:

“If we want our future to be different than our past, we have to reckon with our history head-on. For some people, the name ‘Lake Calhoun’ was familiar and beloved. For a growing number of others — most notably African Americans and the Dakota people on whose ancestral land Minneapolis now sits — the name ‘Lake Calhoun’ celebrated a 19th-century slaveholder who defended slavery as a ‘positive good.’ It celebrated one of the architects of America’s Indian removal policies who authorized the construction of the first U.S. military outpost in Minnesota, which was later used as a concentration camp for Dakota people. 
“In the 21st century, our values are different: Minnesotans no longer celebrate slavery and genocide. The people of Minneapolis and the DNR commissioner chose to remove Calhoun’s name from the lake to alleviate the pain of that history and celebrate instead the dignity of those who originally named the lake.
“I’m very pleased that the Supreme Court’s ruling confirms that we have a reliable mechanism for renaming places that evoke or celebrate racist parts of our past. We now have a sure way to reflect our values today and to pass along the state we want our children to inherit tomorrow.”

The DNR released the following statement in reaction to the court's decision:

"The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is pleased that the Minnesota Supreme Court has concluded that we acted within our statutory authority in renaming Lake Calhoun as Bde Maka Ska.

"The Court affirmed the DNR’s long-standing exercise of its authority to work with local governments on the renaming of waterbodies and other geographic features. We welcome this decision, as it is important that the state and local governments be able to work together to address confusing, unsettled, or derogatory names.

"In this instance, the Hennepin County Board fully considered a wide range of public input and made a reasonable determination.

"The DNR’s job was to evaluate whether the Board followed procedural requirements and whether Bde Maka Ska met state naming conventions. We concluded 'yes' on both counts and approved the renaming. With today’s decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court, 'under Minnesota law, the body of water that was Lake Calhoun is now Bde Maka Ska.'"