Arab Indianapolis

Our Mission: To document the long history and contributions of Arab Americans to Greater Indianapolis

From the late 1800s until today, Christians and Muslims of Arab descent have made Indianapolis their home. Whether it was Syrian immigrant Nicholas Shaheen’s carpet shop on Monument Circle or George Freije’s orchestra, they have enriched the economy and culture of central Indiana. Today’s Arab Hoosiers trace their roots to more than twenty Arabic-speaking countries across North Africa and the Middle East.

All photographs courtesy of Indiana Historical Society


What will this project actually do?

Research the Past

Discover the waves of immigration to central Indiana, and where Arab Hoosiers settled and worked.

Record People’s Stories

Using StoryCorps app, interview and record the living memories of Arab Indianapolis.

Spread Knowledge

Help us publish a book, make public presentations, and design lesson plans for school children.


Who are we?

We are individuals and organizations part of or connected to Arab Indianapolis. The director of the project is Edward Curtis, a fourth-generation Arab Midwesterner who serves as Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts & Professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI.

Want to volunteer or help? Let us know!