Recommendations Advanced to Restore the Name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun; Fort Snelling Community Conversations

Bde Maka Ska
Bde Maka Ska

The lake we now call Lake Calhoun would return to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake) under recommendations forwarded by a key citizens committee to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Those recommendations also propose creating an interpretative area on the south shore of Bde Maka Ska to commemorate Cloudman’s Village, the Dakota settlement that existed prior to the arrival of European settlers.

If the Park Board approves the name restoration, it would still need approval by the Hennepin County Board and go through a process involving the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Healing Minnesota Stories and the Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) have gone on record in support of the name restoration.

The final recommendations  of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Calhoun-Harriet Master Plan are now posted on the Park Board’s website. Recommendations include the following:

The CAC recommends that the Park Board support the official and legal restoration of the name “Bde Maka Ska” to Lake Calhoun and advocate for such restoration in all appropriate fora, including the Hennepin County Board, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Legislature. To the extent that the Park Board determines that such restoration requires legislative action, the CAC recommends that the Park Board include such action in its legislative agenda. (pages 2-3) …

In collaboration with the Native American community, descendants of Mahpiya Wicasta/Chief Cloudman and other interested participants, create a gathering place/interpretive area along the south and southeast shores of Bde Maka Ska to commemorate Cloudman Village and honor the broader history and culture of the Dakota and other indigenous peoples who frequented and/or resided in this area. (page 5)

The next step is for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to receive the recommendations and vote on them. That won’t happen until July at the earliest.

SPIN has sent a letter to the Park Board (and the Hennepin County Board)  supporting the restoration of the original Dakota name. The SPIN letter sent to the Park Board reads in part:

Native peoples have suffered deep trauma over many years, losing their land, language and culture, and all who call Minnesota home are the lesser for it. While the name “Calhoun” has been in effect for more than a century, the man the lake was named for, John C. Calhoun, has no connection to this area. His support of slavery in his day negates being honored with a lake name in our day. Restoring the name Mde Maka Ska provided a unique opportunity to acknowledge a long Dakota presence surrounding the lake and supports the healing of Dakota and other native peoples.

(Note: There is a slight difference in the name spelling, Bde Maka Ska and Mde Maka Ska. Our understanding is that the Dakota word “Mde” or lake, is the older version, and “Bde” is the modern spelling.)

Fort Snelling Community Conversation Thursday: The Crisis of Incarceration

This Thursday, June 16, you are invited to attend a lecture on the Crisis of Incarceration at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis,  5:30-7:30 p.m.

Alisha Volante, Ph.D. candidate and founder of Socially Conscious Social Studies LLC, will discuss the history of incarceration of Native people in Minnesota. (Here is a short video of Volante speaking about Fort Snelling.)

This is part of Native American lecture series hosted by the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). MHS is in the process of a major overhaul at Fort Snelling, both in terms of redoing the visitors center and changing how it tells the Fort’s many stories. It is doing this work in preparation for the fort’s bicentennial year, 2020. As part of that process, it is hosting community conversations to get ideas on improving the fort’s historical interpretation.

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