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Minn. DNR says changing name of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis to become official

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday, Jan. 18, announced the state has approved changing the name of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis to Bde Maka Ska. The DNR’s decision follows a Hennepin County Board resolution requesting the change.

“The DNR respects the role of elected county boards in determining name changes for geographic features,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said.  “In this instance, I am confident the Hennepin County Board carefully considered community values and citizen perspectives in determining that this was the right action to take. DNR’s role is to ensure the county followed the proper process.”

Activists wanted the  city’s landmark lake changed to Bde Maka Ska, its original Dakota name, in a nod to American Indians who lived near the lake and a repudiation of lake namesake John Calhoun, a vice president who was an ardent supporter of slavery.

The DNR’s decision means the lake name change will become official in Minnesota when the DNR’s approval is officially recorded by Hennepin County and published in the State Register. The DNR will submit the Hennepin County resolution, along with the state approval, to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which will approve or deny the name change for federal use.

The DNR is the state agency that approves or denies name changes for geographic features, after Minnesota counties consider name change resolutions, gather public input and vote on proposed changes.

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