MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The city’s biggest lake is a step closer to losing its name.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to approve changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.
The off-and-on conversation gained steam in 2015 after a mass shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina.
Lake Calhoun is named after John Calhoun, a proponent of slavery who helped build Fort Snelling in Minnesota. .
But what exactly does the city’s vote mean?
First off, it does not mean Lake Calhoun is no longer Lake Calhoun.
There are several more layers of government that would have to approve the rename.
But supporters say it’s a first step, and an important one.
The lake’s native Dakota name is Bde Maka Ska. Park Commissioner Brad Bourn is trying to get it restored.
“Changing or restoring the indigenous name and removing that scar doesn’t hurt anybody, and it makes multiple segments of our community come together,” he said.
He added that the name Calhoun represents slavery and doesn’t represent Minneapolis.
Former Parks Superintendent Mary Merrill agrees.
“It’s just such an insulting thing to have this beautiful view named for someone who really was a slave holder, believed in slavery, fought for it,” she said.
However, not everyone see things the same way.
Some lake-goers on Wednesday said they object to “running away” from state history, which has lessons to teach. Others said they had no idea who John Calhoun was and the name change seems pointless.
“I don’t see it as relevant,” one lake-goer said. “I think it’s just cosmetic attempts to make things better and I think there’s just real, concrete things we could probably do.”
Although this conversation on the lake’s name is hot right now, it’s been going on for years.
People from the Dakota nation say the name should be as it was before they were pushed out.