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.
Publish date:

The renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska was illegal and should revert to its previous name.

That's the finding of the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday, which found that former Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr didn't have the power to change the name of Minneapolis' biggest lake.

In the opinion posted Monday, it says "the commissioner of natural resources lacks authority to change a lake name which has existed for 40 years," finding in favor of the group that objected to the name-change, called "Save Lake Calhoun."

Landwehr ordered the lake should revert to Bde Maka Ska – its Native American name – in January 2018, with the lake having previously been named after John C. Calhoun, whose past support of slavery prompted a renaming campaign in Minneapolis.

The efforts to change the lake's name had originated in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, which found that it didn't have the authority to change the name on its own, and nor did the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

But the Court of Appeals found that Landwehr didn't have the authority either, despite the name change being recognized by the federal government and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

The finding by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals was unanimous that the name change was illegal.

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

They found that under state law, only the Minnesota Legislature has the power to change the names of bodies of water in instances where its existing name has been in place for more than 40 years.

The DNR commissioner doesn't have that authority, as it is the legislature that confers powers to the DNR.

The "Save Lake Calhoun" movement had presented a petition on behalf of 318 residents living around the southwest Minneapolis lake, calling for the name of Lake Calhoun to be retained.

You can read the opinion here. It's not clear yet whether this decision will be subject to further challenge.

Next Up

vaccine, covid

Twin Cities police investigating COVID vaccine thefts in viral videos

Videos of both incidents were recorded and shared online.

Guthrie theater

Guthrie to reopen to the public in July, shows resume this fall

The theater has been closed to the public for more than a year.

Target - good and gather plant based

Target is launching more than 30 new plant-based grocery products

All are part of the company's hit Good & Gather brand.

Roller Garden

Roller Garden to auction off skates, signs, arcade games and more

Many items from the beloved Roller Garden will be up for auction next month.

joseph ness booking photo

Charges: Chanhassen man fired hundreds of rounds, killing his sister

Six rifles, including AR-15 and AK-47 variants, were found inside the home.

police lights

Woman robbed and assaulted at gunpoint in Waite Park, police say

The incident occurred on Sunday at around 11:30 p.m.

pixabay - marijuana cannabis

Marijuana legalization: Minnesota House to vote Thursday

The "historic" vote on the House floor is set for Thursday afternoon.

Alicia Hinze

St. Paul brunch favorite The Buttered Tin to open Minneapolis location

Alicia Hinze's breakfast spot and bakery is heading to Northeast.


Lake Calhoun

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

The Court of Appeals has ruled the name change illegal.


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

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought by local homeowners.

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.

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.

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.

Parks Board votes to rename parkways around Bde Maka Ska

The changes will go into effect as early as Thursday.