In 1846 a lawyer named Timothy Davis founded Elkader, Iowa. He chose this name in honor of Emir Abd el-Kader, who was fighting against French colonial forces in the Regency of Algiers, then part of the Ottoman Empire.
The Emir is not the only connection Elkader has to Algeria. Their relationship continues through the Sister Cities Project, which established Elkader, Iowa, and Mascara, Algeria, as Sister Cities in 1984.
On June 19, 2021 Abdelkader Education Project (AEP) co-founders John Kiser and Kathy Garms participated in Elkader, Iowa’s 175th Anniversary event to celebrate the town’s founding. Their display included various artifacts relating to Emir Abd el-Kader and Algeria.
The two had fun educating others as to why settlers in the new frontier named their community after an Algerian freedom fighter and why Abd el-Kader’s story is relevant today. One of many ways the community learned about the Emir was through a student-performed vignette called “Our Town” from the Abdelkader Stage Project. This vignette explores the naming of the Elkader, Iowa.
Following the anniversary event, AEP’s co-founders participated in an episode of Let’s Chat, a series produced by the American Cultural Center Algiers entitled “Elkader, Iowa: Why is a small town in America named after an Algerian hero?”