If our largest city lake receives a new name, it is worth reprinting the description of a July 5 letter writer: “There is nothing like Lake Calhoun on a summer day. You can see every kind of person — young, old, black, white, gay and straight — engaged in every kind of pleasant activity, at play and, usually, in harmony.”
While the lake’s namesake, John C. Calhoun, chose separation and slavery, this current description illuminates the lake and its calling to all ages and cultures. Yet historical figures Calhoun and Dred Scott, whom the letter writer highlights, are symbolic of raw sentiments before the Civil War. Neither name suits a present-day vision of harmony across the waters.
In Seattle, a city lake was named in anticipation of a “union of waters” (Thomas Mercer, 1854) between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Those waters have since come together.
Minneapolis also connected its waters. Its largest lake was channeled to Lake of the Isles in 1911. Yet less than 30 years ago, divisions of race were evident: African-Americans frequented North Beach, and the white population occupied South Beach. Driving or biking around the lake, the racial divide was as obvious as that of Calhoun and Scott.
History is our textbook, but it does not necessarily carry naming rights. Human values also can supply a title. The renaming of the lake could carry one of our highest intentions, a desire to be immersed among diverse equals. There, for lunch, volleyball, a walk or bike ride, or a swim, we can seek harmony at the lake so-named for a human purpose beyond connecting bodies of water. Minneapolis can have its own Lake Union.
This might carry us forward, and back to one high principle: e pluribus unum.
Steve Watson, Minneapolis
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While I agree with Grant Two Bulls, Mathew Beckman and Amy Myrbo that recent events have prompted a discussion concerning the renaming of Lake Calhoun, (“Mde Maka Ska: A Minnesota name for a Minnesota lake,” July 8), with all respect, how about naming it Lake Bonga after George Bonga, the half-Anishinaabe, half-African explorer who first mapped and charted Minnesota’s waterways? Given America’s penchant for naming geographic features after people, such a gesture would go a long way toward healing the historic breach between the two communities created by the Buffalo Soldiers, a U.S. Army regiment of freed black slaves that was sent into our state after the Civil War to slaughter Native Americans.
The possibility, and some say urgent necessity, of renaming the lake has created a golden opportunity for us to help resolve such age-old enmities and bring our communities together. Given John C. Calhoun’s racism, ardent proslavery views and hatred of Native Americans, what could be more fitting than naming the lake after one of the original explorers who charted the water features of our state and who embodies in his very being the heritage of both communities?
Ken Shain, Minneapolis
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Political correctness has gone too far. If we’re going to rename Lake Calhoun because it was named after John Calhoun, a strong defender of slavery, then we should also change all the Indian names that we appropriated after driving them off their land. This would, of course, involve changing the name of the state.
Bill Arthur, Hopkins
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Selling the naming rights could generate millions for the city; consider that U.S. Bank is ponying up $225 million for 25 years for the privilege of hanging its name on the new football stadium. I’m sure the Minneapolis City Council and the park system would welcome such an infusion of cash. My son, an avid bicyclist, initially scoffed at my idea, then reconsidered when he realized how this could support the parks and trails in the metro area.
How does Lake Wells Fargo sound?
Barbara Wojcik, White Bear Lake
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The appropriate time to rename Lake Calhoun probably passed a long time ago — in about 1865. How about if we just use an umlaut over the “o” and call it “Lake Calhöun” — an idea easier to express once you find such punctuation on your keyboard.
The savings in signage would be considerable, and we could all get together to create a Paul Bunyan sort of myth about Cal Höun, a friend to all, sympathetic to the successive waves of Lakota, Yankees, Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Irish, Italians, Hispanics, Lao, Vietnamese, Hmong, Ethiopian and Somali immigrants in their respective travels to these beautiful local shores. Undoubtedly also a catch-and-release fisherman who always picked up after his dog, a neighborly sort who fought crab grass and mosquitoes and left his extra zucchini and tomatoes on his neighbors’ doorsteps early in the morning …
Dave Porter, Minneapolis
Not enough to take it down; we must rethink free speech
I used to think hate groups were the price we had to pay for free speech, which is supposedly a “negative right.”
I no longer believe that after Dylann Roof’s shooting rampage.
The Confederate flag may no longer fly at the South Carolina statehouse, but the hate groups who seized upon it as an emblem, such as the Ku Klux Klan, still exist in the state. Isn’t it time that the KKK and other hate groups be banished from South Carolina, too? Lowering a flag is a gesture, but an empty one, while banning the KKK and other hate groups would be a genuine step forward against racism.
Richard Anton Held, Long Lake
Why a higher gas tax is unfair
With respect to state Rep. Tim Kelly’s editorial counterpoint about transportation funding (“Yesterday’s funding ideas leave Minnesota stalled,” July 10), there is one other aspect to consider. Those who do not buy gasoline due to their location or lifestyle benefit from the transportation infrastructure, too. If you think about it, everything we buy arrives at its final destination by some form of transportation.
While some are inclined to be critical of fossil-fuel usage, go check your refrigerator, dresser drawers and closets. How did that get there?
Therefore it’s high time that someone “thinks out of the box” to make sure there is adequate revenue for our ongoing roadway needs. Just simply slapping on a higher gas tax doesn’t reach out to everyone who benefits. In short, let’s not allow a disparity in sharing the burden of ongoing road maintenance.
Joe Polunc, Cologne
TOILET SEAT DEBATE
A need for further inspection
Point to ponder: If the toilet seat ring is down after use by the man for his standing function (Readers Write, July 6 and 9), can the woman be absolutely certain that it was raised in the first place? I’d say the woman would be more comfortable to see it in the raised position after his use.
Kenneth A. Hanauska, Rogers