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Petition seeks to rename Lake Calhoun for Wellstone

REUTERS/Eric Miller
Lake Calhoun

Another name emerges. The Southwest Journal’s Dylan Thomas reports: “A petition to rename Lake Calhoun after the late Sen. Paul Wellstone made its way to the Hennepin County Board in October, about a week before a scheduled public hearing on two other name-change proposals for the lake. … In May, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board put its support behind efforts to restore the name Bde Maka Ska, or “White Earth Lake” in Dakota. The Park Board added Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun signage this spring. … The change recognized years of campaigning by community members to remove from the lake the name Calhoun, which for many is indelibly linked to the country’s history of slavery and racism.”

So many things come back to ag policy. MPR’s Mark Steil reports: “Some of the state’s best pheasant range is in southwest Minnesota, places like Lincoln County around the town of Ivanhoe. … Decades ago, this area had more grasslands than it does now. And more birds. … ‘Forty, 50 years ago it was pheasants and pheasants,’ said 83-year-old Bud Fehrman. ‘But not anymore.’ … When pheasant season starts Saturday, hunters will find fewer birds than they did before. Grassland pheasant habitats are declining, and their future is heavily dependent on what happens in Congress. … There still are some grasslands left, the type of cover pheasants love. Fehrman said the farm he manages has two fields enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to convert cropland to grass.”

Always good to lower expectations. The Brainerd Dispatch’s Zach Kayser writes: “Minnesotans looking for mental health care reform will have to wait, if Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s prognosis on the situation proves true. … Gazelka and Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, spoke Thursday to the League of Women Voters of the Brainerd Lakes Area inside a classroom at Central Lakes College. The audience of 17 was nearly all seniors, and senior care combined with mental health care formed the bulk of the discussion. When an audience member asked about mental health, Ruud and Gazelka focused on private sector and local efforts to change things rather than policy changes at the state level.

High schoolers love to shred. MPR’s Dan Kraker reports: “When Joshua Kleve helped start the Minnesota High School Cycling League in 2012, he had no idea who was going to show up for the first race. … After all, nationwide, the number of children riding bicycles had declined by more than 20 percent between 2000 and 2010. … That first season, he recalled, there were about 150 student athletes, representing 16 teams. … Today, ‘we’ve grown to 1,300 student athletes, 60 teams, 550 coaches that actually cover over 100 schools,’ he said. Even students from Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas participate. So why is a sport, where 7 out of every 10 participants hadn’t even mountain biked before joining a team, growing at a 40 percent annual clip in Minnesota?”

In other news…

Terrible: “Stillwater man shot, crashes near Grand and Dale” [Pioneer Press]

In case the East Metro was feeling left out by recent freeway closures: “Portion of I-35E in east metro to shut down for two straight weekends” [Star Tribune]

PSA: “Turns out you can buy Shorty & Wags chicken wing seasoning, batter & sauce” [City Pages]

Aww, jeez: “‘Saying goodbye to old friends’: Minn. man, dying from cancer, donates 2,000 books to library” [Fargo Forum]

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Cornel Culp on 10/13/2017 - 02:56 pm.


    I like the idea of renaming the lake. But, it’s good time to remove politics from the issue. I recommend the name be Lake Prince or Prince Lake

  2. Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 10/13/2017 - 07:20 pm.


    Let’s not be so quick. Let’s reserve the lake for Bob Dylan at the appropriate time. No contest!
    (Note: the English convention is to place a proper name after “Lake”. Animal, or plant or descriptive, etc., before “Lake”. French may not differentiate. )

  3. Submitted by Aaron Olson on 10/14/2017 - 12:07 am.

    Bde Maka Sca

    The lake has a name. My thought is that some people want to change the name because they don’t know how to pronounce it. Ask someone who knows. Look it up on YouTube. It’s not difficult. Besides, removing Bde Maka Sca as the name just serves to further erase the presence and importance of the first nations people who were here before Europeans arrived. What would Paul Wellstone, champion of the underrepresented and underserved, think about removing the Native name for the lake in exchange for his? I can’t imagine he would get behind the move.

  4. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 10/14/2017 - 11:54 am.

    When you ask “What would Wellstone, do?” as so many have since we lost him, ask if Wellstone would support a name that recognized a beloved DFL politico or one that celebrated the ancestral home of one of his major constituencies? If you just gotta have Lake Wellstone, at least call it Bde Wellstone.

    I’m agin Bde Maka Ska and agree with those who think that a name with a generic ethnic mix might be more appropriate in that we usually put “lake” in a name somewheres: Lake Maka Ska. If we don’t do this, folks are going to call it “Lake Bde Maka Ska,” or Lake Lake Earth White in sequential translation to English.

  5. Submitted by Noel Martinson on 10/15/2017 - 09:41 am.

    We are kind of already there

    Lake Mille Lacs

  6. Submitted by Kathie Noga on 10/15/2017 - 01:27 pm.

    Petition seeks to rename lake

    I thought that you had to go through the Park Board first before to contact the county with a petition. Knowing Wellstone like I did, he would most likely prefer it be named the Native name. Perhaps it might be better to name a high school or elementary school after him.

    • Submitted by Bill Kahn on 10/15/2017 - 03:36 pm.

      Like the PK-6 in St. Paul? The high school in Minneapolis? The community center in St. Paul? Plenty of other namings and changes.

      I think MPRB can change park names, but not those of lakes, creeks, rivers, etc. AFAIK, there’s nothing in state law that MPRB has to be the first stop, but it sure helped with the Bde Maka Ska petition.

  7. Submitted by Ivy Chang on 10/15/2017 - 10:09 pm.

    Lake name

    Why do Americans name landmarks after a person? Can the Park Board name this lake by the location or as Bill Kahn suggested? Bde Maka Ska is good; the Park Board would have to teach
    residents and visitors how to pronounce it. Lake White Earth is good and the name reflects on the history of Minnesota.

  8. Submitted by Bob Alberti on 10/16/2017 - 01:09 pm.


    This headline is an example of whitewashing.

    This lake has already been renamed Lake Bde Maka Ska. By using the lake’s dead name you have whitewashed the story. The story from this headline is “Petition seeks to rename Lake White Guy to be Lake Other White Guy.” That’s a lot more innocuous-looking than “Petition seeks to rename Lake Rare Case of Indigenous Representation to Lake Pandering for Liberal Support of White Resentment.”

    The actual headline should be changed to “Petition Seeks to Rename Lake Bde Maka Ska to Lake Wellstone.” Anything else is deliberate whitewashing.

    • Submitted by Mac Riddel on 10/16/2017 - 02:57 pm.

      No it hasn’t. It’s still officially Lake Calhoun. The article clearly states that the petition to change it to Bde Maka Ska will be heard on 10/17. Now there’s a total of 3 petitions that will be heard that day. All these proposals are a waste of resources as the current name is just fine. Sure, we don’t like the historical figure now, but his actions and ideas for his time were widely accepted.

      Instead of revising history, keep the name and add a plaque next to the lake explaining how the name came to be and why. Let Minnesotans learn about our states past rather than bowing to special interest groups.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 10/20/2017 - 09:41 am.

        I agree

        They should have never revised history by changing the name to Calhoun – it should have kept its original name of Bde Maka Ska. Unfortunately, special interest groups got the name changed after a terrible racist. Minnesotans should learn about the past, and reject the special interest groups that renamed the lake Calhoun.

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