Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis
By Contested Histories Initiative •
In 2015, a citizen advisory committee including several Indigenous activists proposed that ‘Lake Calhoun’—christened for John C. Calhoun, antebellum politician, slavery advocate, and proponent of the Indian Removal Act—be restored to its original Dakota place name, ‘Bde Maka Ska’, meaning ‘White Earth Lake’. What followed was a contentious legal battle spanning five years and involving numerous community stakeholders, appellate and supreme courts, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies. This case study examines the complex processes which ultimately culminated in the lake’s renaming.