Afternoon Edition: April 8, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Melodi Serna (right), executive director of the American Indian Center, who is from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Oneida Nation, hugs Nizhoni Ward, who is from the Navajo and Choctaw Nations and recently was crowned Miss Indian Chicago during a round dance gathering at the center in Albany Park.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition


Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will see rain and snow showers with a high near 39 degrees. Similar conditions will continue into tonight with a low around 31. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high near 44. Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high around 56.

Top story

As Chicago’s Native American population grows, more efforts are underway to build community

A generation ago, Nizhoni Ward’s paternal family had lost ties with their tribal nation.

But Ward, 17, of Homewood, has embraced her ties to the Navajo and Choctaw Nations.

On a recent Saturday, she wore a colorful ribbon skirt and a sash identifying her as Miss Indian Chicago as she sang in a crowded gymnasium inside Chicago’s American Indian Center.

She uses her title to attend cultural events in hopes of changing popular portrayals of Native Americans.

“We’re just regular people who are trying to connect back to our land, connect back to our ancestors and make our ancestors proud and make a change for the future that being Native American is something that is very important and very sacred,” Ward said.

Over the past 10 years, more Chicagoans are identifying as Native American — up from 13,337 in 2010 to 34,543 in 2020, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of census data.

But community members and experts say collecting accurate data is complicated.

While the community is small compared with other racial and ethnic groups in Chicago, its roots date to the city’s origins.

After decades of national assimilation programs — ranging from boarding schools to encouraging Native Americans to move to cities like Chicago — Ward and others are pushing for a more truthful history of their community and embracing its traditions.

Elvia Malagón has more on the efforts to build community here.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Monuments Committee is recommending that statues of Christopher Columbus in Grant and Arrigo Parks be permanently sidelined and that the Balbo Monument in Burnham Park be removed. Ald. Nick Sposato, who served on the 30-member committee, said the outcome was pre-determined by the makeup of the committee.
  2. Elon Musk’s ambitious plans for space travel are taking shape on a sandy patch of Texas not far from the U.S.-Mexico border town of Brownsville and South Padre Island, the spring break haven. Musk’s “Starbase” has risen where a Chicago radio announcer once planned a retirement community for Chicagoans, many of Polish descent, our Robert Herguth reports.
  3. When Elodie Carmen Baker was two-months-old, she was diagnosed with a rare heart disease, USA Today’s Wyatt Grantham-Philips reports. After a long, 218-day wait for a matching donor organ to become available, Baker, now 8 months old, has a new heart — thanks to a successful heart transplant at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
  4. Employees at a sixth Chicago-area Starbucks store have joined a union organizing campaign that supporters say has spread to more than 180 of the chain’s coffee shops throughout the United States. Meanwhile, union representation votes have been scheduled for two Starbucks outlets in the Chicago suburbs.
  5. After COVID-19 forced Riccardo Muti to withdraw from this weekend’s series of concerts, Lina González-Granados became the first Latina to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. González-Granados won the fourth Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition and became the orchestra’s Solti Conducting Apprentice under Muti.

A bright one

Thinking about adopting a pet, now’s a good time. PAWS Chicago’s Spring Adopt-a-Thon kicks off Friday

If social media videos of snuggly dogs and cats aren’t cutting it anymore and you’re ready to try the real thing, the time is now, according to PAWS Chicago, which is hosting its annual Spring Adopt-a-Thon.

The event, which kicked off at noon today and runs for eight days, will offer additional operating hours and appointment times for anyone interested in adopting.

“When the weather warms up it’s mating season for cats and dogs, ... so what we do is host an Adopt-a-Thon not only to raise awareness but because we need to make room to prepare for the influx of animals that happens this time of year,” PAWS CEO Susanna Homan said Friday.

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A puppy named Gina at PAWS Chicago.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

PAWS, the largest animal welfare organization in the Midwest, runs an adoption shelter at their Lincoln Park location, 1997 N. Clybourn Ave., as well as an expanded state-of-the-art animal hospital that opened late last year in Pilsen at 3516 W. 26th St.

PAWS normally adopts about 90 pets a week. That number can double during the Spring Adopt-a-Thon.

“What we’ve found is when we tell Chicagoans there’s a need when it comes to homeless pets, they are super responsive. And the Adopt-a-Thonis our way of alerting Chicagoans that the moment is here, we’re having an influx of pets, come on in and adopt,” Homan said.

The pets available for adoption can be viewed on the PAWS website. Many will be going quick this week, so be sure to call and enquire if one catches your eye.

Mitch Dudek has more on how you can take home a new pet here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What advice do you have for first-time pet owners in the city?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: How would you describe what Opening Day is like here to a non-Chicagoan?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Being battered by a damp, freezing wind while sitting on a cold slab of plastic.” —Tracy Lewis Liang

“Hope, shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and working through, and acceptance.” —Craig Barner

“Bring an umbrella, parka, and flip flops.” —Anthony K. Creer

“It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the reminder that winter WILL end even when Opening Day is still very cold. To me Opening Day —it’s hope.” —Josh Moughler

“North Side: a Wrigleyville drunk fest. South Side: cold, rain, or snow.” —Michael Smith

“One of the best days all year! One to hang your hopes on and smile.” —Candy Helen

“Opening day is like the first day of school. You’re excited that this will be a great year, you get to see people with a shared sense of anticipation, and you haven’t been ‘schooled’ yet.” —Paul Lockwood

“A lot of hope, beer, a few hot dogs, and a wish that it was sunny.” — Robert Barrutia

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