As one of the treaty signers in 1829 and 1833, Billy Caldwell and others negotiated the sale of 5,000,000 acres of land in northwest Illinois, resulting in the removal of all Native American tribes in the state of Illinois.
Billy Caldwell, son of a Mohawk woman and British Army Captain, William Caldwell was a leader in early Chicago. Although he was not a blood relative of the Great Lakes tribes in the area in 1833, Caldwell worked to negotiate the safe passage of the United Nations of Chippawa, Ottawa and Potawatomi out of the state of Illinois and west to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Why didn't Billy Caldwell stay in Chicago? Why did he leave and live his final days in Council Bluffs, Iowa? What was his intention in signing the treaties? Today, Caldwell’s Band of Prairie People now live in Mayetta, Kansas as the federally-recognized tribe of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
This documentary explores these actions through research and interviews with local subject experts.
Coming in 2024.
(Artist rendering of Billy Caldwell used courtesy of Lois Alexander family, 2023)
Over the course of two years the documentary production team had fun traveling throughout Chicago, Iowa and Kansas. Film Locations: Chicago, Illinois; DeKalb, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa; Council Bluffs, Iowa and Mayetta, Kansas. Thanks to so many people and organizations for making this film a reality. Friends to the right, Dan Melone, Dennis Downes, Susan Kelsey and Andrew Johnson.
Image of General Sir Isaac Brock above (l to r), a British soldier, Tecumseh, Billy Caldwell and father William Caldwell courtesy of the family of Hal Sherman (2014).