ABC 7 Chicago hosts digital town hall to recognize Native American Heritage Month; Leah Hope moderates

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC 7, Chicago's Number One station for news, presented a virtual town hall recognizing Chicago's Native American community: their history, contributions and challenges. ABC 7's Leah Hope moderated the hour-long event available on abc7chicago.com Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 PM.

November marks Native American Heritage Month, and Chicago - whose name is adopted from a local American Indian word - is home to one of the largest urban Indigenous communities in the U.S. and Midwest. This area was the original homeland to the Council of the Three Fires: the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi Nations, and the Illinois Confederacy: the Peoria and Kaskaskia Nations. Many of these and other tribal groups continue to call this area home and celebrate their traditional teachings and ways of life.

This town hall probed deeper into the rich culture and traditions of Indigenous Chicago. Native American/American Indian representatives from social service, academia, culture and business shared their perspectives on various issues. Leah Hope also addressed the community's current day concerns and challenges including under-representation in politics, healthcare services, businesses and popular culture. Additional discussion topics included how Native Americans have been breaking barriers and what the media can do to elevate Native American and Indigenous communities across the country.

Guest panelists:
- Dr. Dorene P. Wiese, CEO, American Indian Association of Illinois
- Andrew Johnson, Executive Director, Native American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois
- Blaire Topash-Caldwell, Mellon Public Humanities Fellow, Newberry Library's D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies

The virtual town hall was also exclusively streamed live on ABC 7's Facebook Live, YouTube, ABC 7's app, and ABC 7's connected TV apps on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Roku.

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About ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago
ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago is the No. 1 local news source and most-watched television station in Chicago. With top-rated daily newscasts spanning decades and the largest social media presence in the market with more than 2.3 million Facebook followers, ABC7 Eyewitness News provides breaking news, investigative reporting, weather, politics, traffic and sports in the multiplatform space to Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana. Named Best News Operation by the Associated Press for four consecutive years, the station produces 41 hours of local news weekly and Chicago's only local weekday entertainment talk show, "Windy City LIVE," as well as its highest-rated New Year's Eve special. ABC7's award-winning programs such as "Heart and Soul," "The Ñ Beat" and "Asian Influences" showcase the city's diversity, while being the only Chicago station producing and broadcasting parades representing Chicago's rich cultural history. In addition to producing town halls focused on current social issues, the station has a long and proud tradition of broadcasting political candidate debates keeping Chicago's electorate informed. ABC7's outreach efforts include annual partnerships with the Red Cross for life-saving blood drives and, most recently, spearheading an effort to raise more than $1.5 million for area food pantries.
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