Keya means turtle in the Dakota language and it's now the new name for a Roseville neighborhood park.
In February, the City Council voted to rename the 5.7-acre park, formerly called Pocahontas Park, after two years of analysis and robust community engagement.
Keya (pronounced Kay–Ah) nods to both the land's history and its wildlife. The entire Twin Cities region is located on historic Dakota homeland. The new name also references the turtles who often scramble into the park from the marsh below.
"Keya is a fantastic name that fits in with the spirit of playfulness that we have in so many of our parks," said Roseville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Johnson. "It also aligns with the city's naming practice of utilizing animals that are present in the park while recognizing the Native American and Dakota history of the land the park is located on."
A youth commissioner on the city Parks and Recreation Commission and a resident first raised questions about the park's name in 2020. Pocahontas was a member of the Powhatan People in present-day Virginia. While she played a role in our nation's history, there's no evidence she had any connection to Roseville or Minnesota.
City leaders developed an engagement and analysis plan using a racial equity toolkit. They consulted a variety of academic sources, sought input from residents, and gathered feedback from members of local Dakota and Ojibwe tribal members.
City staff mailed letters to residents near the park, engaged in conversations with residents at community events, and posted signs seeking feedback.
"Over two years, we really tried to leave no stone unturned," Johnson said. "We had engagement opportunities at more than 20 community events and we talked to hundreds of individuals."
The consensus: many in the community said Pocahontas was not an appropriate name for the park because it did not connect to our region's vibrant Native American heritage. Many suggested a new name that honored local tribal roots.
The city received more than 70 name suggestions before deciding on Keya, which received support from Native Americans who participated in the process.
Renaming the park, located at 2540 Pascal St., is consistent with the city's aspirations of becoming a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful community.
The city will replace the park sign and add interpretative signage to explain the region's Native American history. Plans are also underway to replace the playground at Keya due to its age and condition as part of the city's Park Improvement Program. Parks and Recreation staff are hosting three community playground planning meetings to discuss the plan and gather community feedback.