Q: How did the renaming process begin?
A: A petition with at least 15 signatures was given to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The board held several public hearings before it approved renaming Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, the original Dakota name that means White Earth Lake.
Q: Why did the petitioners want to change Lake Calhoun’s name?
A: Federal surveyors named the lake after Secretary of War John Calhoun, who authorized the building of Fort Snelling. Calhoun, a South Carolinian who later became vice president and a U.S. senator, was an ardent supporter of slavery. His background prompted the Park Board a few years ago to reconsider the lake’s name.
Q: What is the next step?
A: The Hennepin County Board will hold meetings and vote on the name change. The board has received two other petitions for different names: Lake Maka Ska or Lake Wellstone, after the late U.S. senator. The County Board may ratify the Park Board’s recommendation, choose another name or leave it as Lake Calhoun.
Q: When will the County Board vote on the matter?
A: No timetable has been offered.
Q: Does the County Board have the final say?
A: No. Two other agencies would have to approve a new name: the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
Q: Would street names around Lake Calhoun, such as Calhoun Parkway, also need to be changed?
A: Not necessarily.