Mazamani (Iron Walker)

Ms. Schommer talks about her family's involvement in the U.S.-Dakota War and how it affects her today.

Audio Chapters

CS: My great-grandfather, the one chief, Mazamani, he is buried up here at the state park. In all the stories that we’d ever heard about our grandparents or great-grandparents, he was a chief. He wanted to save his people. That told us about the event that lead up to him being shot by the soldiers and our people taking him back, trying to keep him alive, and finally Mazamani tells them, “I’m not going to be. You’re not going to bring me back. I won’t be coming back. Let me go, and leave me here.” Not just leave him and go; he meant that when he left this world, he wished to be buried in that area. But then as soon as that happens, you leave and try to get away from the soldiers. And that was in this area. And so it wasn’t long after he passed on from that bullet wound that they buried him and they left. And only the family members knew exactly where he was buried. My mother did not tell me that until my boy was probably about seven years old, so that would have been in 1958.

DL: What about New Ulm; have you ever been there?

CS: Oh, yes. That is really a….

DL: How long ago was it when you were there?

CS: Oh, New Ulm? We go through there quite a bit, you know, when we’re going to either Mankato or any on – yes, to Mankato, we do go through those towns. I think I’ve only been to New Ulm and stopped in town there because I grew up knowing what they did to us, what they did to our people way back when.

All of that just comes to you when I get anywhere near those places because it’s a part of what the history, you know, how our people were treated. And it was bad. And I don’t want to go – I don’t. I know it happened and I don’t like it, and it makes me feel sad and I’m hurt that when I look at… And they have nothing to do with what happened in the past history, I know that, but I look at the people passing by and I think: could you have really hated us so much that you would have done some of the things that you did do?

DL: Like what?

CS: Oh, I don’t even like to talk about what they did. And there was another town. And these were all told by my grandparents. When they did that march, when they marched them to Fort Snelling – you can compare that to what happened to the Jews in Germany – it’s almost the same thing. And it’s not a very good thing, it’s sad. For me, when I think about that, what I feel in the pit of my stomach and in my heart, I don’t even like to think about it. But it’s there. I know it happened. And when you can feel something like that, just going through those areas, is that still there? Is that still there, that we feel it? And I’ve driven through there by myself when I was working in Shakopee; when the floods came, I had to take another route to come back to Granite. I’d drive through there and I really feel – I would feel like I need to get through here really quick, you know, I want to get out of here, of this area.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Carrie Schommer Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Granite Falls, Upper Sioux Community, MN | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Mazamani (Iron Walker) April 22, 2024.

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.