Kate Beane TED Talk: The lasting legacy of place names

Public historian Kate Beane, her twin sister Carly Bad Heart Bull, and their father Syd Beane played a central role in restoring the name Bde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake) to Lake Calhoun. They and others who supported this work spent years to restore the name, and they met resistance from some sectors of the community. They persevered and eventually succeeded.

Kate Beane gave a TED Talk in Minneapolis in May titled: The Lasting Legacy of Place Names, in which she describes why this work was so important to her, her family and future generations.

Here’s more background from a 2018 City Pages article: Kate Beane and Carly Bad Heart Bull: The Storytellers.


New ‘Twin Cities Pilgrimage’ Offers Experiential Learning About African American Experiences in Minnesota

Healing Minnesota Stories and the Minnesota Council of Churches are excited to announce a new place-based learning opportunity called the Twin Cities Pilgrimage which will be a sacred journey of historical black narratives in Minnesota. It will follow the model of Healing Minnesota Stories’ popular and transformative Dakota Sacred Sites tours, which we have offered for nearly eight years.

Pastor Danny Givens will lead the Twin Cities Pilgrimage, which will offer stories of African American Origin, Sanctuary, Diaspora, Liberation, and Lament. The initial Pilgrimage will be Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.. We will carpool and caravan to a few Twin Cities sites, such as the old Ronda Neighborhood which was displaced by I-94. We will listen to the stories that live in these spaces.

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Update: Bde Maka Ska Case Goes to Supreme Court

The state’s highest court will make the final call on whether Bde Maka Ska or Lake Calhoun is the official name for the largest lake in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, according to an MPR story.

Dakota community members worked for years to get the original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska, restored. It replaced Lake Calhoun, named after John C. Calhoun, a pro-slavery politician from South Carolina who never set foot in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) appeared to have given the final OK for Bde Maka Ska. Some city residents who were fond of the name Lake Calhoun sued to keep it and the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in their favor. The DNR didn’t have the authority to change the lake name after it had been in place for 40 years.

The DNR is appealing that ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court. According to MPR:

The DNR had called the entire question moot because the U.S. Board of Geographic Names already changed the name of the lake to Bde Maka Ska, and a Ramsey County district court judge had agreed.



MN Appeals Court Reverses Mde Maka Ska Name Restoration

The Minnesota Court of Appeals today ruled invalid the long-fought citizen process to restore the name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun. The reason? Some obscure law that said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources couldn’t approve a name change for a lake after the lake had the name for 40 years. After that, it’s apparently up to the state legislature to approve the name changes.

Read the Star Tribune story: Bde Maka Ska is Lake Calhoun again, Court of Appeals rules for the details.

Heartfelt sympathies to all who worked long and hard for the name restoration and hope for a better outcome as the debate continues.

Mexico Urges Spain, Pope, to Apologize for Abuses of Colonization, and Other News

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote Spain’s King Felipe VI and Pope Francis seeking apologies for them for the abuses of colonialism and conquest, news outlets are reporting.

However, there are differing spins. The Guardian headline said “Mexico demands Spain apologize …” The Washington Post headline said “Mexico’s President Wants Spain to Apologize,” but cautions that the request threatens “a diplomatic row.” The Reuters offers the tepid headline: “Mexico president wants no beef with Spain, hints at other apology requests.” Continue reading

Burt Lake Burnout: A Story of Land Theft and Indigenous Perseverance

In the grand scheme of land thefts from indigenous peoples, what happened to the Cheboiganing Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians in Michigan more than a century ago is small.

But it’s a powerful story for what is says about indigenous perseverance and resilience.

The land theft was egregious, a litany of broken promises and failed efforts to make things right. The Cheboiganing Band descendants still fight for justice today. When settlers stole their land, they lost their federal recognition as a Native nation. They want it back. Continue reading