Supreme Court to hear Bde Maka Ska case

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The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments Nov. 13 on whether a state commissioner had proper authority to change the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, the Dakota name recognized by the Minneapolis Park Board and Hennepin County. (The hearing was held too late for the Southwest Journal’s press cycle.)

In April, the state Court of Appeals ruled that former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr lacked the authority to rename the lake in 2018. The court ruled state law requires official lake name changes to be made by the Legislature for titles in state record for more than 40 years.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board began the process of changing the name in 2015 as places around the United States reconsidered names and monuments honoring those who supported slavery, like former Vice President John C. Calhoun, the lake’s namesake.

The Hennepin County board also voted to change the lake name in 2017, shortly before the DNR officialized its name change.

A group opposing the change, “Save Lake Calhoun,” filed a lawsuit opposing the legality of the name change.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office argued on behalf of the state.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has officially changed the name of the lake to Bde Maka Ska at the federal level.

Supreme Court opinions are generally issued about four months after hearing arguments.