End of the line for Lake Calhoun?

Minneapolis Lake Calhoun was named after Secretary of War, Vice President and South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, which is odd. Why on earth was Minneapolis naming lakes after a guy from South Carolina? Now, KARE 11 reports, some people want to change the name because he was also a proponent of slavery.

“I am looking at all of this information on Calhoun and the more I see, I think this is one of the worst people ever born in this country,” John Winters told the station.

Calhoun sent the Army to survey the area and authorized the construction of Fort Snelling. That’s his Minnesota connection, apparently. Good enough, it appears, to get a big lake named after you.

There’ll probably be a Parks Board hearing soon on whether the name of the lake should be changed, considering the beliefs of Mr. Calhoun. Perhaps its original name — Mde Maka Ska — would work.

Should Lake Calhoun be renamed?online surveys

  • Whether the name should be changed seems like less of an issue than what it should be changed to, should it be changed. I’d really like to see it go back to an indigenous name (or the English translation thereof) than be named for another white guy.

  • bench

    Lake Pawlenty? Maybe they could sell the naming rights like they do stadiums- as in, “I just caught this huge fish out of Lake Medtronic!”

  • I think it’s time for the lake to be renamed…we wouldn’t name a lake “Maddox” (as in Lester Maddox), would we?

  • krj

    I am not for or against renaming the lake. I just wonder at what point the name transcends the origin of it. If it was discovered that Grapefruit was named after or by an unsavory individual, is it also something to be renamed? I think this is similar to schools using Native American mascots/names and how much history should be rewritten to make it more appropriate now.

  • John
  • Kevin Skogg

    How about Skogg Lake or Lake Kevin?

  • johan

    If not reverting to its Native name, then I think we should consider naming it after civil rights hero Bayard Rustin.

  • JB

    We’ve got a lot of renaming to do…

    Wikipedia list of places named for John C. Calhoun

    Also, although not listed on that wikipedia page, The Calhoun School in New York, NY makes it very clear they value diversity (despite their namesake).

  • Kevin Moberg

    @Mr. Skogg – I would be for naming it Lake Kevin after you if we could also rename the Kevin Beach Club apartments after me.

    While I differ with krj in that I don’t think this issue has a parallel with Native American mascots, as those are cultures that are still extant in today’s society, I agree with the point that (for me, anyway) the name transcends its origin. I don’t think about Vice Pres. Calhoun when I’m at the lake anymore than I think about the patron saint of horses when I walk across the stone arch bridge. To me, just as “Saint Anthony” means cobblestones and skyline views on picnics, the word “Calhoun” associates with frisbee, sandcastles, and sunscreen, not with slavery.

    From a practical standpoint, I just don’t even know if it would stick. How many of us actually call it “Mall of America Field?” Heck, I know people who still call Macy’s Dayton’s.

  • kennedy

    While we’re at it, let’s rename the Jefferson Memorial. He favored slaves.

  • Paul J

    I agree with krj and Kevin Moberg about the name transcending origin. It’s not like it was called Slavery Proponent Lake. I like the name Calhoun — the sound of it. I knew not and cared not from whence it came.

    If the outcry is such that we HAVE to rename it, then I propose it be called simply, “Lake.” Hopefully that will be non-controversial enough to keep at bay those looking for things to be angry about.

  • Frank Connor

    I agree with krj, Kevin Moberg and Paul J. The name transcends its origins. Ask yourself, when you say “Lake Calhoun” do you think of a lake that’s been enjoyed by generations of Minnesotans or its long-dead namesake?

    How many namesakes do you consider?

    If we rename Lake Calhoun, should we rename other Minnesota places? The city of Coon Rapids, for instance, because the first word could be considered a racial slur? The city of Darfur because it shares nomenclature with the site of genocide in Africa? The city of Coleraine because its Northern Irish namesake was the site of many deaths during The Troubles?

    Revising names could become an endless process.

  • Jim Shapiro

    How about, “The round one next to the one with the islands” ?