MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With their ladders, wrenches and big green signs, city crews are giving a new look to an old lake.

On Monday morning, workers were busy renaming streets around Bde Maka Ska to more accurately reflect the areas new identity.

“While I understand not everyone supports it, it is more widely supported than not. And we’ve got a lot of positive feedback. I think it follows the national trends of what this happening in this country and it was the right thing to do,” explained Dawn Sommers, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The renaming of the former Lake Calhoun began several years ago. Supporters behind the change wanted to drop all references to former U.S. Vice President, John C. Calhoun. History shows Calhoun was a strong advocate of slavery and worked to force the removal of Native Americans across Minnesota.

“Our park board made it very clear that the park board’s name of that property and that lake is Bde Maka Ska,” added Sommers.

That’s why 22 surrounding street signs near Bde Maka Ska will now carry its Dakota, which roughly translates to “Lake White Earth.”

Though some private businesses in the area have already dropped the Calhoun reference, others still cling to its identity. The change will only reflect public properties.

“Well, I just think the money could be better spent,” says resident David Spotts.

Spotts despises what John Calhoun stood for, but he thinks there are more important priorities to pursue such as needy children and failing infrastructure.

“That being said, I just feel like at this point there are just more important things to be doing with taxpayers’ money,” Spotts said.

Though the signs are changed, this will not end the matter. There is still a lawsuit before the state Supreme Court over the DNR’s authority to change the lake’s name in the first place.

A decision from the court is expected by the end of the year.

Bill Hudson

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