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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A group of Minneapolis residents has filed legal action to block changing the name of Lake Calhoun.

Hennepin County leaders want to drop the 1800s-era name that honors former vice president, senator and slavery supporter John Calhoun. Legislators hope to change the lake’s name back to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska.

The Save Lake Calhoun group sent a letter to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources alleging that the county board violated several statutes by voting to make the name change, the Star Tribune reported . Erick Kaardal, the group’s attorney, argues that the board doesn’t have the authority to recommend a name change because the name has been used for more than 40 years.

He argued that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has already added signs to the lake with the name Bde Maka Ska, so there’s no need to officially change the name. The board also gave no factual basis for changing the name, Kaardal said.

The county has “complied with its statutory obligations,” said Carolyn Marinan, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County.

“Restoring the name Bde Maka Ska will start conversations and educational experiences about our history and the first indigenous people of Minnesota,” legislators said in a joint letter issued Wednesday. “This action will grow a deeper appreciation for the vibrant Native American Indian communities that still exist in Minneapolis and throughout the state.”

Tom Austin, leader of Save Lake Calhoun, said many residents near the lake said they oppose the name change.

“They were overwhelmingly disgusted that public officials were spending all of this time and energy on the lake renaming issue when there are so many other pressing problems facing the community that need to be addressed,” Austin said.

The change must be approved by the DNR and then receive federal approval.


Information from: Star Tribune,