ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A divided Minnesota Supreme Court said Wednesday a state agency has the authority to change the name of a popular lake back to its original Dakota name.
The state Court of Appeals ruled in April that the Department of Natural Resources overstepped its authority in January 2018 when it restored the name Bde Maka Ska. It said authority to change the name of Lake Calhoun rested with the Legislature under statutes governing lake and other place names.
Justice David Lillehaug, writing for the majority of five justices, said the Department of Natural Resources commissioner has the statutory authority to change the name.
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote on behalf of her and Justice G. Barry Anderson in dissent and said the decision gives "unbounded power" to the Department of Natural Resources to change the name of every lake in Minnesota at any time.
Save Lake Calhoun attorney Erick Kaardal had argued the Legislature enacted a policy that says lake names that have been used more than 40 years cannot be changed without lawmakers granting additional authority.
Hennepin County asked the Department of Natural Resources for the change because Lake Calhoun was named for pro-slavery former Vice President John Calhoun. But some nearby property owners challenged it.