The Minneapolis Park Board moved one step closer Wednesday night to renaming Lake Calhoun roads and public land that surrounds the lake to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska.
With little debate, the board's five-member Administration and Finance Committee unanimously approved two resolutions for the name change, which still must be voted on by the full nine-member board.
More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the renaming before the committee took action.
"I think this is a symbolic effort, but it will start real change," said Board Member Jono Cowgill. "Some say names can't teach us history, but this has instilled a discussion to learn more."
The roads to be renamed are Calhoun Boulevard West, Calhoun Drive, East Lake Calhoun Parkway and West Lake Calhoun Parkway. Bde Maka Ska will replace the words "Lake Calhoun" or "Calhoun."
The committee also approved suspending board naming procedures and authorizing the portion of Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park known as Lake Calhoun Park to be changed to Bde Maka Ska Park. Board members Meg Forney and Steffanie Musich raised concerns about suspending procedures and how that might impact future name changing decisions.
Members limited debate because Board Member AK Hassan made a motion to shorten the debate and move to a vote. He said it was time to move the issue forward and that it was the right thing to do. He also said he wanted to end the debate because he was late breaking his Ramadan fast.
The roads and park bear the surname of John C. Calhoun, a staunch supporter of slavery. The renaming effort by the Park Board rebuffed last month's decision by the state Court of Appeals, which ruled that the state Department of Natural Resources commissioner exceeded his authority when he changed the lake's name last year. The agency said it would file an appeal with the state Supreme Court but has not yet done so.
Calhoun, who served as vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, was a Southern plantation owner who strongly advocated for both slavery and the removal of American Indian people from their lands in the 1820s.
Among the people who voiced their support for the name change was Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley, who said she was speaking on behalf of herself. In referring the long process that has taken place over the name change, she said it's the obligation of public officials to sometimes have to make uncomfortable decisions. Other speakers included a descendant of Calhoun, who apologized for the actions of his relative.