Renaming a Lake Sends Message

At the start of WE18, we received this note I just walked in the house from my 3M networking event to kick off conference, jazzed to be hosting locally, and my husband greets me with the conference magazine from the mailbox stating, “What is wrong with this cover? I thought SWE is all about diversity and breaking boundaries as stated.”
Renaming a Lake Sends Message

At the Start of WE18, We Received This Note:

"I just walked in the house from my 3M networking event to kick off conference, jazzed to be hosting locally, and my husband greets me with the conference magazine from the mailbox stating, 'What is wrong with this cover? I thought SWE is all about diversity and breaking boundaries as stated.'"

As a passionate civil engineer of the Minneapolis metro, he pointed out that Lake Calhoun pictured on the cover was renamed due to Calhoun’s stance on slavery. I didn’t believe him — being a Wisconsinite — but looked it up and the lake is now Bde Maka Ska, [having received] all levels of approval this summer to return to the original Dakota name. One article stated it was the first time an official name changed from English to the Native American version, so at least Minnesota broke that boundary.

I thought you should know, since the cover prompted discussion and learning in our household tonight!
Looking forward to WE18,
Angela Statz

Response

Thanks for letting us know about the name change. We worked off of maps from the city’s website to develop the layered maps on the cover and in the cover story. Since the name change did not take effect until this summer, there must be many maps out there that haven’t been updated yet — even on the city’s own site. Consequently, we were unaware of the change, or even that there had been any controversy over the name.

Personally, the magazine staff applauds returning the lake to its original Dakota name. And what a stimulating discussion you must have had in your household.

Hope you enjoyed WE18.

Additional information on the lake

The largest lake in Minneapolis, Bde Maka Ska is part of the city’s Chain of Lakes. In 1817, the United States Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, sent the army to survey the area, which would surround the soon-to-be-built Fort Snelling. While the lake was “named” in his honor, in recent years there have been local efforts to change the name either back to its original name, or in honor of someone deemed more deserving. Calhoun’s history and legacy as both a slaveholder and pro-slavery politician made a compelling argument for change.

In 2017, the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to recommend changing the lake’s name back to Bde Maka Ska, and the Hennepin County commissioners agreed. In January 2018, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also changed the name. The state then submitted the change to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which approved the change in June 2018. Park signs around the lake now use only the name Bde Maka Ska.

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*Feature image courtesy of KARE NBC11 Minneapolis, St. Paul