Street sign change

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has voted to rename streets surrounding Bde Maka Ska, also known as Lake Calhoun. West Calhoun Boulevard, as shown on May 14, 2019, is among the four streets that would lose the name “Calhoun.” (Matt Sepic/MPR News file)

MINNEAPOLIS — Workers are planning to begin installing new signs Thursday morning after the Minneapolis Park Board voted Wednesday to change the names of four streets around Bde Maka Ska, which is also known as Lake Calhoun.

The name of the lake itself remains the focus of a legal dispute. But the park board has sole authority to name the streets and parkland it controls. The vote was 7-2.

Supporters of the name change said former Vice President John C. Calhoun should not be honored because he was a strong supporter of slavery and the exiling of Native people.

“Our indigenous and African-American youth should not have to walk down streets with names of people who pushed for the subjugation of and violence against the bodies of their ancestors. None of us should have to,” said Carly Bad Heart Bull.

Park Commissioner Londel French agreed. “We can’t change history, but we can determine what the legacies of our buildings and our monuments are,” he said. “To ask me as a black man to keep a name of somebody as despicable as John C. Calhoun is disgusting.”

Opponents of the move said residents will have to change their addresses — at a cost of time as well as money.

According to a notice sent to media before the expected approval, parks staff will install “placards changing East and West Lake Calhoun parkways to East and West Bde Maka Ska parkways at 8 a.m.”

The park board said city crews will change the green street signs at a later date.

As for the lake itself is called, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn a state appeals court ruling determining that the agency did not have the authority to rename Lake Calhoun Bde Maka Ska.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard in Steele County on 103.9 FM or online at MPRnews.org.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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