Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska: Addressing the metadata

Bde Maka Ska bath house and bathing beach, Minneapolis, Minnesota

As the Metadata Librarian for the Minnesota Digital Library, I am pleased to share the important work MDL recently completed in conjunction with a contractor at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Lindsey Geyer's recent project addressed the name change from Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska - and now the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's records reflect that change. I am pleased to share here Lindsey's account of this recent project.

- Greta Bahnemann

Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska: Addressing the Metadata 

by Lindsey Geyer

On January 18, 2018, the Department of Natural Resources approved Bde Maka Ska to replace “Lake Calhoun” as the name for one of the Minneapolis park system’s most popular destinations. The lake, which translates to “White Earth Lake”, was once home to the first long-term Dakota farming settlement commonly referred to as Cloud Man’s Village. Upon exploration of the area in the early 1800s by surveyors from Fort Snelling, the name of the lake was recorded as “Lake Calhoun” after Vice President and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was a defender of slavery and advocate for Indian removal policy. As part of its master planning process for the lake, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board supported the community’s recommendation to change the lake name to Bde Maka Ska. However, the Park Board does not have the authority to change a lake name so it submitted the request to Hennepin County, who approved a resolution requesting the name change and forwarded the request to the DNR.  You can find more information about the topic here.

So how was the metadata addressed for hundreds of “Lake Calhoun” entries in the Minnesota Digital Library’s Reflections database? As the name of the lake is now officially Bde Maka Ska, all relevant titles from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s collections were updated to reflect the appropriate name. As Bde Maka Ska is phased into everyday use by local community members and outside researchers, the phrase “formerly referred to as ‘Lake Calhoun’” was inserted into each description. Locally identified subject headlines were also updated with the Bde Maka Ska keyword, with the “Lake Calhoun” tag remaining in order to more accurately display search results.

This collaborative work between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minnesota Digital Library has been quick and easy, and will both lead to more accurate research and contribute to name normalization moving forward.

Click here to view the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board collection in Minnesota Reflections