Art project at Bde Maka Ska pays homage to Dakota people

An art project underway at Bde Maka Ska is taking a look at the lake’s former inhabitants, all while a legal battle over its name change remains ongoing.

Saturday, we stopped by the project that is dedicated to the history and culture of the lake along with the cultural significance of the Dakota people.

”We’re here not only to talk about the Dakota history, but welcome all those that have supported us,” an organizer said.

The land's original inhabitants were honored along the shores of Bde Maka Ska.

“We are decedents of the community that lived here on the shores of Bde Maka Ska,” explains Kate Beane, project organizer.

Kate Beane and her family helped cultivate this new lakeside project next to where her ancestors lived.

“Bde Maka Ska translates to White Earth Lake,” she says. “We had a community of just a few people in 1829, and it grew to a community of over 200 people.”

Anyone enjoying the lake’s east shore will see the cultural art on the sidewalks, a common area, and rock spiral design honoring the Dakota.

“Being part of this project was incredibly valuable for me as a Dakota person, to learn who I am and where I came from,” said artist Angela Two Stars.

“We worked with the decedents of this site and the public arts people to bring forward this site,” added artist Sandy Spieler.

The work brings about more change to the former Lake Calhoun named after a former Vice President and War Secretary John Calhoun who imposed the policy of removing Native Americans from their lands.

“We’re in the process of re-instituting this place for its original inhabitants that were the Dakota people,” says Mayor Jacob Frey. “Right now, it is going through the legal process through the state legislature.”

“It’s one small step of reparation that will only continue to unfold,” Spieler said.

State lawmakers say the legislation is still in the process at the Capitol.