Mą́zamąnį́ga, "Iron Walker," is from mąs, mąz, mąza, "iron"; mąnį́, "to walk, he walks"; and -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. The name "Iron Walker" by which he went was probably a nickname, as most Mąz- names are of the Bear Clan (Mązanąpįga, Mązawįga, Mązᵋsąwįga, Mązᵋwįga, and Mą́zičiga). We know that he was of the Thunderbird Clan because he was the son of Whirling Thunder, who himself was a chief.
Iron Walker eventually became a chief in his own right. He is known for two things: being the eponym for the town of Mazomanie, Wisconsin; and being the man who shot dead the famous interpreter Pierre Pauquette. Satterlee Clark gives what is now the legendary account of this incident:
On the 18ᵀᴴ day of October, 1836,] Pauquette came to my
store to rejoice over our victory [in frustrating Gov. Cass in
buying the lands of the Winnebago]. On this occasion he
drank too much wine, and became just enough intoxicated
to be impatient of contradiction. In this condition he started
home on foot, and when within about one quarter of a mile
of the ferry, opposite his house, he found an Indian and his
wife sitting by a little fire in the bushes. The Indian was
Mahzahmahneekah [Mą́zamąnį́ga], or Iron Walker, who was
also drunk. What there occurred, is only known as related by
the squaw that night. She said Pauquette kicked the fire apart,
the Indian arose up and said something that offended Pauquette,
who slapped the Indian's face, knocking him down. The Indian
got up, saying, "You knocked me down; but I got up. I will knock
you down, and you will never get up. I will go for my gun."
Pauquette only laughed, and sat down. The Indian returned,
when Pauquette stood up, pulled open his coat, placed his hand
on his breast and said, "Strike and see a brave man dies." The
Indian fired, killing him instantly, the ball severing one of the main
arteries leading from the heart. No man in Wisconsin could have
died who was so much regretted. His death can safely be attributed
to intoxication, though it was the first time I ever knew or heard of
his being in that condition. (Satterlee Clark; Thwaites, Note 41)
He was initially convicted of murder, but on retrial was acquitted. Merrel tells us of his camp, which was not too far from his father's village:
Some years after, Captain Thompson was out with a party of soldiers
gathering up the Indians to remove them west of the Mississippi, and
came across a young Indian whom he induced to guide him to
Man-za-mon-e-ka's camp; and he surrounded his wigwam before the
Indian knew it. The Captain said he found him on an island in Winnebago
swamp — since Lake Horicon — and never could have discovered his
retreat but for his guide. Man-za-mon-e-kah was taken to Prairie du Chien,
from which he soon disappeared, and no one knew what became of him.
Captain Thompson said that Man-za-mon-e-kah, after taking him, said that
he was never happy after killing Pauquette, as he dare not venture himself
among his Nation, and had to secrete himself. He probably lived the rest
of his life away from his people. (Merrell, 389)
Prior to 1832, Iron Walker's village was located a couple miles down river from Watertown, itself the site of a large village. (Radin, 51)
In 1832 he was living under Chief Old Fox in Elk Village, also known as "White Breast," at the present site of Horicon, Wisconsin (43.446872, -88.6300911). (Kinzie, Rolls, Elk Village)
In October, 1836, Mauzemoneka (Iron Walker) "had at the time a camp on the high land north of the city end of the present Wisconsin river bridge [in Portage, Wisconsin]." (Pauquette, 402)
After 1836, he had his village on an island in Horicon Swamp.
Ca. 1863, he and his band were forcibly removed from their Horicon Swamp dwellings, and while in transit at Prairie du Chien, Iron Walker disappeared.
Place Name Memorials
The superintendent of the railroad, Edward Brodhead, who gave Mazomanie its name, says: “He [Mą́zamąnį́ga] was an Indian chief in our state and was well known to the old gentleman, H.L. Dousman, who said the Indians pronounced it as though it was spelled Man-zo-ma-nie and the English of it is Iron Horse, which I adopted for the name of a railroad town and also for the name of my horse.” (Mazomanie Sickle) Mazómanie, Wisconsin, is located at coördinates 43.174391, -89.798456.
Satterlee Clark, "The Early History of Fort Winnebago as Narrated by Hon. Sat. Clark at the Court House in Portage, on Friday Eve., Mar. 21, ’79," The Portage Democrat, March 28, 1879 = Satterlee Clark, "Early Times at Fort Winnebago, and Black Hawk War Reminiscences," Wisconsin Historical Collections, VIII (1879): 316-320.
Reuben Gold Thwaites, Notes to Wau-Bun, Caxton Club Edition (1901), 403 nt. 41.
Henry Merrell, "Pioneer Life in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Historical Collections, VII (1876): 366-402.
Moses Paquette, "The Wisconsin Winnebagoes," Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII (1892): 399-433.
Mazomanie Sickle (newspaper), July 5, 1884.
Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1923).
"Winnebago Village List, compiled by John H. Kinzie," in Richard Dieterle, The Encyclopedia of Hočąk (Winnebago) Mythology.