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Mpls. Park Board set to rename Calhoun streets and park to Bde Maka Ska

A vote will be held at a committee meeting Wednesday.

A Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board committee is moving forward with plans to remove "Calhoun" from some street names and a park, replacing the reference to the pro-slavery former vice president with "Bde Maka Ska."

On Wednesday, the Administration and Finance Committee will vote on two resolutions addressing the matter: One would swap Calhoun used for four street names with Bde Maka Ska:

  • Calhoun Boulevard West ➡ Bde Maka Ska Boulevard West
  • Calhoun Drive ➡ Bde Maka Ska Drive
  • East Lake Calhoun Parkway ➡ East Bde Maka Ska Parkway
  • West Lake Calhoun Parkway ➡ West Bde Maka Ska Parkway.

Another resolution would suspend normal park board rules and rename Lake Calhoun Park (which is part of the Chain of Lakes Regional Park) to Bde Maka Ska Park. 

If Wednesday's vote passes, the Star Tribune notes, it would trigger a comment period and public meeting before the full park board votes to follow through on it.

The parks board has been discussing the possibility since March, an effort prompted by last year's renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska. Although now, the name of the lake itself is in limbo. 

On April 29, an appeals court ruled the alteration by former DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr was illegal, and that it had to be done by the Minnesota Legislature. (Though there are question about whether that is even correct, as MPRs Bob Collins explains here.)

The DNR is appealing the court's ruling, and the federal government will continue to refer to the lake as Bde Maka Ska.

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The lawsuit had been brought by a campaign group, Save Lake Calhoun, backed by Linden Hills venture capitalist Tom Austin, who submitted a petition from more than 300 residents living around the lake who were against the change to Bde Maka Ska.

Some of those residents may soon find themselves living on a street named Bde Maka Ska rather than Calhoun, with the 4 streets in question among the 42 streets and parkways that the parks board has the authority to rename. 

The "Calhoun" name comes from former vice president and senator John C. Calhoun. He was a supporter of slavery, and while secretary of war formulated a failed plan to deport Native Americans west of the Mississippi River. He was also an influential leader in the War of 1812.

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