In April of 2018, the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr approved the initiative to change the name of Lake Calhoun to Lake Bde Maka Ska. On April 29 of 2019, the court of appeals ruled that Landwehr lacked the authority to approve this change, reverting the lake back to its original name of Lake Calhoun.
Just shortly after the reversal, the Democrat-controlled Minnesota house added section 103 to their omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill that undermines the court of appeals, changing Lake Calhoun’s name back to Lake Bde Maka Ska.
The Minnesota DNR has recently challenged this appeal, arguing that it sets a precedent for “considerable disruption in the normal order of government decision making.”
Brad Bourn, President of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, wrote in a Facebook post that “318 property ‘owners’ on stolen Dakota land around Bde Maka Ska… have prevailed at this stage” and that he has no intention of “spending any public resources honoring Vice President John C. Calhoun’s blood-soaked legacy of systemic violence.”
Hennepin County Library has also jumped in on the issue, echoing Bourn’s rhetoric on Twitter by sharing a gif that says “that name no longer has any meaning for me” in response to someone referencing Calhoun.
Tom Austin, Chairman of “Save Lake Calhoun” says that the name of Lake Calhoun “represents absolutely nothing more than a beautiful lake in the heart of the city” and “ it never represented an endorsement of slavery or an endorsement of genocide.” He knew he had to take action after the “DNR ignored a warning [in 2018] from the general counsel of the Minnesota Legislature that changing the name of Lake Calhoun was illegal per Minnesota Statute 83A.01-.07” because the “elites are truly out of control.”
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Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.