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Minneapolis parks takes another step toward renaming streets around Bde Maka Ska

The park board has jurisdiction over streets and parks around the contentious lake.

City officials are continuing renaming efforts of streets and parkways surrounding Bde Maka Ska. 

At a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board committee meeting Wednesday, members voted unanimously to rename Calhoun Boulevard West, Calhoun Drive, East Lake Calhoun Parkway, and West Lake Calhoun Parkway to reflect the lake’s Dakota name.

According to meeting materials, a public comment period from May to July showed majority support from respondents, with 57 percent of a total of 741 in favor of renaming. Of those not in favor, 35 percent opposed the change and 8 percent offered other suggestions.

Reasons respondents gave for opposing renaming included financial concerns, procedural problems and historical issues, according to the report.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr ordered that Lake Calhoun revert to its Native American name, Bde Maka Ska, in January 2018. The movement to do so stemmed from John C. Calhoun's support of slavery. 

But a group of local homeowners opposed the move, filing a lawsuit against the DNR, which eventually led to a Court of Appeals ruling in April that the lake's name had been changed illegally.

The court deemed that Landwehr did not have the authority to change the lake’s name, and that only the state Legislature can do so.

The city intends to challenge that ruling in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Despite this opposition, the park board does have the authority to rename streets and parks. The board voted in June to rename Lake Calhoun Park to Bde Maka Ska park.

This means Wednesday’s vote is just the latest push in a wider movement to change names and signage around the lake.

The full park board will vote on renaming the streets at its Aug. 21 meeting. 

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