In the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," it's hard to avoid some repetition.
Take Mud - not pretty, but it's the most common name among Minnesota's 11,842 lakes, attached to 200. On the more offensive side, how about Jap Lake in the state's far northeastern tip?"I have seen an increase in the number of people proposing lake name changes," said Glen Yakel, supervisor of hydrographics with the state Department of Natural Resources. "I used to get an inquiry about once every three months. Now, it's about once a week."
In 1991, one of the state's Mud Lakes was changed to Mallard Pass. Earlier this week, another started its bureaucratic journey to become Golden Pond.
Jim Wiinanen is working to change the name of Jap Lake near Grand Marais. The lake name comes from the initials of a mining prospector and his wife, John and Addie Paulson, who developed a mine nearby in the 1890s.
"It's a politically incorrect name as people interpret it right now," said Wiinanen, who operates the Wilderness Canoe Base children's camp on an adjacent lake.
Minnesota in 1995 became the first state to require counties to rename geographic features - 19 lakes, streams and points in all - with the word "squaw" in them. Some American Indians say the word is derived from an Indian word for female genitalia.
Other names were changed in the 1960s when the U.S. Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names outlawed the use of two racial epithets on geographic features.
The state usually doesn't initiate name changes, leaving it up to private citizens. The procedure requires a petition with 15 signa-tures, a public hearing before county commissioners and state approval before a change can even be considered.
Then it's sent to the federal board, which decides whether the name will be changed in official federal records. That may take up to a year.
Yakel emphasized that when geographical names change, there is no mandate to print new maps. It simply means that information is updated the next time maps are printed.