MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota DNR announced Wednesday that it will be appealing the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ decision on the naming of a popular Minneapolis lake.
On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources did not have the authority to rename Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, its original Native American name.
The court ruled the name of the lake is Lake Calhoun because the DNR, in renaming the lake, ignored a Minnesota law saying only the legislature can rename a lake that has had a specific name for 40 years.
The DNR issued a statement Monday saying, whatever happens, for federal purposes the name has already been officially changed to Bde Maka Ska and will remain so on a federal level. That was confirmed by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
Then, on Wednesday morning, the DNR said it will appeal the decision and will submit its petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme Court by May 29.
Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen released a statement:
“DNR is very concerned with the implications of the Appeals Court’s ruling for our ability to work with county boards to reflect community standards in how the state’s waters are named. We have long worked with counties in eliminating offensive or derogatory names.
“We are also concerned with another aspect of the Appeals Court’s decision. Specifically, it opens the door for people to challenge a range of final agency decisions well after established appeals periods. This presents the potential for considerable disruption in the normal order of government decision making.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released a statement on the DNR’s appeal.
“Our client, the Department of Natural Resources, has decided to appeal the Bde Maka Ska ruling, and the Attorney General’s Office is proud to support them. I believe this ruling raises enough challenges to the ability of a state agency to carry out its lawful duties that the Supreme Court should hear this appeal. I also believe Minnesotans need a reliable mechanism for renaming places that evoke or celebrate racist parts of our past. We need a way to reflect our values today and pass along the state we want our children to inherit tomorrow,” Ellison said.
Members of the DFL in the legislature have also responded to the decision, and there is already an amendment to the House omnibus environmental financing bill, which is DFL-controlled, to change the name officially to Bde Maka Ska.
This renaming amendment passed the Minnesota House Tuesday afternoon. Now the question is what happens in the Senate.