MN Supreme Court: DNR had right to rename Lake Calhoun as Bde Maka Ska

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought by local homeowners.

The Minnesota DNR Commissioner had the authority to rename Lake Calhoun as Bde Maka Ska, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled.

The majority opinion was issued by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, which follows a legal challenge from Save Lake Calhoun, which comprised a number of homeowners who live on the lake, after the lake was changed to its original, Lakota name in 2018.

Then-DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr approved the name change, but opponents had argued that he didn't have authority to rename lakes or other bodies of water when their names have existed for more than 40 years.

The majority of the Supreme Court justices disagreed, saying this prevents county boards changing names, not the commissioner.

Justice David L. Lillehaug, writing an affirming opinion, found that the DNR Commissioner "has statutory authority to change the names of Minnesota lakes, including those with names existing for 40 years or more."

"Under Minnesota law, the body of water that was Lake Calhoun is now Bde Maka Ska."

Writing a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said that the Legislature had not intended for the DNR Commissioner to have such power over lake names.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"Under today’s decision, if the DNR desires to change the names of Lake Vermilion, Lake Minnetonka, Lake of the Woods, Gull Lake, etc., it can do so without any input from the communities where these lakes are located," she wrote.

"This decision should upset and unsettle every Minnesotan and most especially those who live in a community with a lake."

It should be noted that the decision to rename Lake Calhoun followed a grassroots campaign in Minneapolis that was backed by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation board and the city council.

Opponents to the name change claimed the lake was the victim of "extremist name-change advocacy" relating to John C. Calhoun, who was instrumental in the founding of Fort Snelling but was a notable defender of slavery.

The name Bde Maka Ska has already been recognized by the federal government. It was the lake's name at the state level that was the subject of the challenge.

Next Up

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day 2020?

Most services will not be running on Thursday and unlike most years, many stores will be closed, too.


How a turkey's brush with celebrity in Bloomington came to a tragic end

DNR: if you care about wild animals, stop feeding them

TCF Bank Stadium

Saturday's Gophers/Badgers football game canceled due to COVID-19 issues

The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will not take place for the first time since 1906.

coronavirus, Iowa

MN health officials don't think downside of COVID-19 peak has arrived

We could be in a trough between a series of waves, Jan Malcolm said.

covid-19, coronavirus

Wisconsin reports record 104 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday

That's roughly 10% of the total in the nation in a 24-hour period.


Husband and wife sentenced for fraud scheme through their drywall firm

The Annandale pair bilked an insurance company out of more than $300,000.


4 pedestrians suffer life-threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

Two vehicles crashed into a car that was on the side of the road after striking a deer.

Marcus Carr

Gophers season preview: New lineup, deeper bench, more questions

Mathew Goldstein takes a deep dive into the murky waters of the college hoops season.


Photos: ViV!R, Minneapolis' new Mexican cafe and shop, is now open

The team behind the acclaimed Popol Vuh have opened the cafe in the same space.


At Wiscoy Township's sole precinct, election judges ditched masks

Voter and Wiscoy resident Kaitlyn O'Connor took a photo of the judges after asking them to wear masks, she said


Lake Calhoun

DNR to appeal ruling on Bde Maka Ska–Calhoun name change

The Court of Appeals has ruled the name change illegal.

Court of Appeals rules Lake Calhoun-Bde Maka Ska name change illegal

It says the DNR commissioner didn't have the power to change the name.

bike trail at Lake Calhoun Park Bde Maka Ska 2015 flickr

Calhoun streets, park set to be renamed as Bde Maka Ska

A Mpls. Park Board committee is taking up the proposal Wednesday.

bike trail at Lake Calhoun Park Bde Maka Ska 2015 flickr

Guess what the new name of Lake Calhoun Park is...

It's been renamed Bde Maka Ska Park by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Lake Calhoun now federally recognized as Bde Maka Ska

It's now official at the State and federal levels.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 9.59.02 AM

The 'Save Lake Calhoun' website now has a very different message

It comes a day after a court ruled its name change was illegal.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 10.46.52 AM

More of Bde Maka Ska Parkway to close to traffic, Lake Harriet to re-open

It's the latest effort by the Parks and Rec Board to promote social distancing.