Minneapolis Park Board votes to change name of Lake Calhoun

The Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to change the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, the lake’s Dakota name as part of the board's new master plan.

The 400-acre lake is named after John C. Calhoun, the vice president and secretary of war who authorized the building of Fort Snelling in the early 1800s. But, Calhoun is also a controversial figure. He was the author of the Indian Removal Act and a supporter of slavery, which has some residents and Native American groups upset with the history over the lake’s namesake.

In 2015, the park board agreed to change the signs around Lake Calhoun to also include the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska, which means “Lake White Earth.” But, there is still a push by some to drop the name “Calhoun” altogether.

The MPRB doesn't have the authority to stop calling it Lake Calhoun. The name change still needs to be approved by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR would then need to submit the change to United States Board on Geographic Names for final approval.

The names of Calhoun Parkway, East Calhoun Parkway and West Calhoun Parkway will not be changed.

Not everyone is on board with the name change.

Arlene Fried, the co-founder of Park Watch, sent the commissioners an letter asking them to keep the name the same.

"The renaming of landmarks is complicated and confusing and a waste of resources," wrote Fried. "The name Calhoun is not going to be eradicated."