Bde Maka Ska
Boats on the lake in 2017
|Basin countries||United States|
|Surface area||401 acres (1.62 km2)|
|Average depth||82 ft (25 m)|
|Max. depth||87 ft (27 m)|
Lake Calhoun (also called Bde Maka Ska; see section on name) is the largest lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and part of the city's Chain of Lakes. Surrounded by city park land and circled by bike and walking trails, it is popular for many outdoor activities. The lake has an area of 401 acres (1.62 km2) and a maximum depth of 87 feet (27 m).
The lake is part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, connecting with Lake of the Isles on the northeast, Cedar Lake on the northwest, and Lake Harriet on the south. The trail system has a 3.4-mile (5.5 km) trail around Lake Calhoun for bicyclists and skaters and a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) trail around Lake Calhoun for pedestrians. Both of these trails connect to the larger trail system via connections to Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet. In addition, the Midtown Greenway Trail is located just north of the lake and Lake Street. The lake itself is popular for canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing, and it has three swimming beaches.
The three beaches are Calhoun North Beach on the north side of the lake, Calhoun 32nd Beach on the east, and Calhoun Thomas Beach on the south. There is Lake Calhoun Park and surrounding park land offers parking, picnicking, volleyball, and athletic fields. It is also home of sailing, hosting the Calhoun Yacht Club, the Lake Calhoun Sailing School, as well as local high school teams and the University of St Thomas Sailing Team.
A plaque on the east side of the lake commemorates the mission station built by Samuel and Gideon Pond where they created the first alphabet for the Dakota language at Cloudman's Village. On the west side is The Bakken, an old mansion with medicinal gardens and a library and museum devoted to medical electricity and the history of electromagnetism.
The Dakota originally called the lake Mde Maka Ska (modern spelling Bde Maka Ska, pronunciation: Be-DAY Mah-KAH-Ska) meaning White Earth Lake, or White Bank Lake, a name that probably was given by the Ioway who inhabited the area until the 16th century. Another Dakota name for the lake may have been Mde Med'oza, which was the name initially adopted by settlers, either as Lake Medoza or in translation as Loon Lake. The Dakota also described it as Heyate Mde, meaning "Lake Set Back (from the River)".
The United States Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, sent the Army to survey the area that would surround Fort Snelling in 1817. Calhoun had also authorized the construction of Fort Snelling, one of the earliest Euro-American settlements in the state. The surveyors renamed the water body "Lake Calhoun" in his honor. The Fort Snelling Military Reservation survey map created by Lt. James L. Thompson in 1839 clearly shows the lake as bearing the name "Calhoun".
Calhoun's legacy as a pro-slavery politician has led critics to question whether he is the best person to be honored. In 2011 the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board visited the issue. Their legal counsel concluded that the board could not legally change the name, as state law gives that power to the Commissioner of Natural Resources, and then only in the first 40 years after the name was designated. Following the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, a fresh drive to change the name started via an online petition. The Park Board indicated it would look into whether they could change the lake's name through state action, and in fall 2015 added the Dakota name to signage below the official name. On March 22, 2016, an advisory group decided via majority vote to urge the Minnesota Park and Recreation Board to restore the lake's former name. In 2017, the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to change the lake's name back to that of Bde Maka Ska and the Hennepin County commissioners approved it more narrowly. The change needs final approval at state and federal level in order to go into effect.
The lake contains black crappie, bluegill, bowfin, common carp, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, tiger muskellunge, walleye, white sucker, and yellow perch. Some fish consumption guideline restrictions have been placed on the lake's bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and white sucker due to mercury and/or PFOS contamination.
In 1991, the then-Minnesota state record tiger muskellunge at 33 pounds 8 ounces was caught in the lake. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation website lists the lake as one of the best in the city for ice fishing walleye, northern pike, and crappies in winter.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board added "Bde Maka Ska" to signs around Lake Calhoun
You learn how to pronounce it: Be-DAY Mah-KAH-Ska.
Lake Calhoun, first known by Native Americans as Lake Medoza ("Lake of the Loons"), Mde Maka Ska ("Lake of the White Earth"), or Heyate Mde ("Lake Set Back from the River")...
The Hennepin County Board on Nov. 21 voted to recommend changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, which means "Lake White Earth" in Dakota.