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Court: Minnesota Had No Right to Rename Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska

Lake Calhoun is back on the map.

Canadian geese on lake Bde Maka Ska with Minneapolis skyline
By Rochelle Olson

Lake Calhoun is back on the map.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr lacked authority to change the name of the lake because the name had existed for more than 40 years.

In January 2018, Landwehr ordered the lake's name revert to its original Dakota name: Bde Maka Ska. The federal government approved it and signs around the lake were changed.

But the unanimous opinion by a three-judge panel said the name will go back to Calhoun because Landwehr's action was illegal and only the Legislature holds the authority to change the name after it existed for 40 years.

The dispute over the lake's name paralleled a national movement to remove the names of segregation and slavery supporters from monuments. Lake Calhoun was named in honor of John C. Calhoun, the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832 and a senator from South Carolina. He was a staunch defender of slavery.

Erick Kaardal, the lawyer for the "Save Lake Calhoun," the group that challenged the name, called the decision "A win for holding the system accountable,"

Attorney General Keith Ellison's office, which represented the state, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Court of Appeals Judge Heidi Schellhas presided over the panel that include Judge Randall Slieter and retired Judge Larry Stauber.

(c)2019 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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