A lake in Washington County has an offensive name – so it's getting a new one

A lot of residents don't even call the lake by its official name.

It's just a small lake northeast of the Twin Cities, but it has a pretty offensive name.

In fact, residents don't even refer to the body of water just southeast of Forest Lake by its real name. They call it Sylvan Lake. Not Halfbreed Lake, like it says on the map.

That's why the Washington County Board this week voted in favor of changing the name. If everything goes as planned, it could soon be called Lake Keewahtin – which translates to "north wind."

The name changing process started late last year. As the Star Tribune reported, some residents were fed up with the official name – which is a derogatory term that used to refer to someone who was half American Indian and half white European. So residents signed a petition to have it changed to what people are already calling it: Sylvan Lake.

But then some people in the area started suggesting Lake Keewahtin instead, and a lot of people favored it. After all, it's a Native American word, and there's a Keewahtin Avenue that pretty much runs along the whole west side of the lake.

Plus, there are already plenty of Sylvan Lakes. Just search it in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' LakeFinder and you'll find 13 other lakes that go by that name.

However, there are plenty of people who said in the meeting they'd keep calling it Sylvan no matter what because that's what they've always called it.

According to documents on the county's website, the DNR has approved both of the suggested names.

Earlier this month, Minneapolis Park Board members voted to change the name of Lake Calhoun to its original Dakota Indian name of Bde Maka Ska. It's pronounced “b-day ma-kha skah” and means “White Earth Lake.”

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