After a Round of White Fragility, Minnesota City Park Board Changes Names from Racist Politician to the Original Indigenous Name
The Minneapolis, Minnesota, Park and Recreation Board voted Wednesday to rename four parkways with the original Dakota name.
Park Board commissioners, who voted 7-2 to make the change, said it was a small step to undo the presence of the lake’s namesake, John C. Calhoun — the politician who advocated for slavery and the removal of American Indians from their lands in the early 19th century — and teach people about the land’s indigenous history.
The vote comes after a round of white fragility which saw some local politicians and leaders cringe at the thought of changing the name to reflect the real name bestowed upon the lake and region by the Dakota Sioux community.
As a result of Wednesday’s vote, West Calhoun Boulevard, Calhoun Drive and East and West Lake Calhoun parkways will now be named West Bde Maka Ska Boulevard, Bde Maka Ska Drive and East and West Bde Maka Ska parkways. City crews are expected to install new placards for East and West Bde Maka Ska Parkways on Thursday morning, although green street signs will be changed by the city at a later date.
The change is the latest in a years-long back-and-forth surrounding the name of one of Minneapolis’ most popular lakes. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) restored the name to Bde Maka Ska, meaning “White Earth Lake,” in 2018, a decision currently under review by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
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