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Effort to rename Lake Calhoun picks up steam after public hearing

Most people supported it at a listening session last night.

On Tuesday night, Minneapolis residents got their chance to weigh in on an issue that's had many in the city divided for years: renaming Lake Calhoun. 

And it turns out they overwhelmingly support the idea.

The public comment session was held by the Hennepin County Board, as part of the legal process for restoring the lake's original Dakota name – Bde Maka Ska (it's pronounced “b-day ma-kha skah").

The hearing lasted two hours, and the majority of the dozens of people who got up to speak voiced support for the name change, the Star Tribune reports

According to the paper, one of the speakers, a local mom and historian named Kate Beane, told the board: “The lake is not a brand; the water is sacred ... it’s time we are consulted on changes. Please respect our wishes.”

That doesn't mean support for the plan was universal, however.

MPR says "about a half dozen" spoke against removing Calhoun, including one area resident who petitioned against the name change – and got hundreds of signatures. 

So what happens next?

According to the county board, the next step in the legal process – which began this year when the Minneapolis park board voted unanimously for "Bde Maka Ska" – is officially petitioning the Department of Natural Resources to sign off on the name change.

But that's not the end of the road. 

If the DNR says yes, final approval would then be up to the feds, specifically the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

For the time being, however, the county board will continue to accept public comment – in the form of written testimony - for another 10 days, MPR says.

Background

The lake's current name is controversial, because it comes from a divisive figure in American history: John C. Calhoun, who was a U.S. secretary of state, senator, and vice president.

But Calhoun was also an ardent supporter of slavery, and a strong advocate of the 19th Century Indian removal policies.

The lake – the biggest in Minneapolis – was named for him because he played a major role in the founding of Fort Snelling

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