From the late 1800s until today, people of Arab descent have made Indianapolis their home. From establishing businesses to working in the fields of health care and education, they have contributed to the cultural vitality, economic growth and social fabric of greater Indianapolis. Today’s Arab Hoosiers trace their roots to more than twenty Arabic-speaking countries across North Africa and the Middle East.
In the documentary Arab Indianapolis: A Hidden History, Dr. Edward Curtis, professor of religious studies at IUPUI, takes viewers on a journey through the stories of Arab Americans in Indianapolis, uncovering a rich part of the city’s history that’s hidden in plain sight. Arab Indianapolis explores the first Arabic-speaking neighborhood in Indianapolis, the founding of St. George Church in the 1920s, the establishment of a prominent Arab American business on Monument Circle in the 1920s, the service of Arab Americans in World War II, the election of Arab Americans to political office, the contributions of Arab Americans to medicine since the 1920s and the influence of Arab American food on menus across the city.
The one-hour documentary’s broadcast premier takes place June 16 on WFYI (channel 20), Indianapolis’s public television station. Afterward it will stream for free online.
For more information about the documentary and other components of the Arab Indianapolis project, including an accompanying book, visit www.arabindianapolis.com.
This program received support from an Indiana Humanities Action Grant.