Katrina Jagodinsky

Harold and Esther Edgerton Assistant Professor of History Profile Image
Harold and Esther Edgerton Assistant Professor of History History kjagodinsky@unl.edu (402) 472-2414 606 Oldfather Hall

Katrina Jagodinsky is the 2015-2017 Harold and Esther Edgerton Assistant Professor of History and joined the Department in 2012. She is a scholar of the North American West and examines marginalized peoples’ engagement with nineteenth-century legal regimes and competing jurisdictions. Jagodinsky holds a Ph.D. in History (2011) and M.A. in American Indian Studies (2004) from the University of Arizona, and she earned her B.A. (2002) from Lawrence University. She spent a fellowship year at Southern Methodist University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies before joining our department.

Jagodinsky’s recently completed book is the first in the prestigious Lamar Series in Western History from Yale University Press to make women its primary focus. Legal Codes & Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946 explains the strategies of six women seeking to protect their bodies, lands, and progeny from the whims of settler-colonists in the tumultuous process of westward expansion and conquest. The study expands the chronology of Indigenous women’s critique of colonial and exploitative legal regimes, illustrating both the longevity of laws making Indian women economically and sexually vulnerable, and the persistence of Native women’s innovative arguments against such oppressive legal systems. Jagodinsky has also published a number of articles and essays that examine the efforts of Indigenous and mixed-race women and children to leverage the American legal system in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. “A Testament to Power: Mary Woolsey and Dolores Rodriguez as Trial Witnesses in Arizona’s Early Statehood,” won the 2012-2013 Jerome I. Braun Prize for Best Article in Western Legal History.

Currently, Jagodinsky is preparing a study of marginalized westerners’ habeas corpus petitions in the territorial era. To demonstrate the innovative nature of such petitioners’ use of habeas corpus, she concentrates on petitions that challenged white citizens’ ownership of Black bodies, the federal and industrial criminalization of Asian bodies, Indian agents’ authority over Indigenous bodies, and men’s access to women and children’s bodies. Together these stories illustrate the contested nature of racial and gendered authority in the North American West and reveal the power of habeas corpus as an invaluable tool for the disfranchised.

Another ongoing project includes Laying Down the Law, a symposium and anthology project in collaboration with the Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the UNL History Department that Jagodinsky is co-editing with Pablo Mitchell of Oberlin College. The project will center its discussion on two deceptively simple questions: how have legal borderlands defined the North American West, and how have Westerners defined and/or challenged legal borderlands? Jagodinsky and other contributors’ answers to these questions will characterize the West as a place of many overlapping legal borderlands rather than a lawless place. Laying Down the Law should illustrate the importance of western legal history, in its myriad and complex forms, in American experience, history, and identity.

Jagodinsky is an active member of the profession, serving on the Western History Association’s Conference Program Committee in 2016-17 and 2014-15, the American Society for Legal History’s 2014 Conference Program Committee, and the Irene Ledesma Prize Committee for the Coalition for Western Women’s History since 2014.


HIST 110: US History to 1877
HIST 115: Making and Breaking Law in American History
HIST/ETHN 340/840: American Legal History
HIST/ETHN 351 (341) /851: American West to 1900
HIST 359: The Mythic West
HIST 441/841: Women & Gender in US History
HIST 450: Capstone Seminar in US History: Legal History
HIST 950: Graduate Seminar: Researching and Writing History
HIST 953: Comparative Approaches in History: Comparative Legal History


Legal Codes & Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946

  • Harold and Esther Edgerton Junior Faculty Award, University of Nebraska Lincoln, 2015
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Research Council Grant in Aid, Publication Subvention, 2014
  • Phillips Fund for Native American Research, American Philosophical Society, 2014
  • Jerome I. Braun Prize for Best Article in Western Legal History, 2012-2013
  • Research Fellow, Southern Methodist University, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 2011-2012
  • Writing Fellow, William P. Clements Center Annual Symposium; Southern Methodist University, University of New Mexico, Autry National Center, 2009-2010
  • Writing Fellow, New Histories of Indigeneity and Imperialism Workshop; University of Manitoba, 2008
  • “Roundtable on Legal Borderlands in Pacific Northwest Indigenous Histories,” Organizer & Discussant, Western History Association Conference, October 2015.
  • “Roundtable on Legal Histories & Public Audiences: Linking Legal History, Public Policy, and Public History,” Organizer & Discussant, American Society for Legal History Conference, October 2014.
  • “The Legal Pluralisms of Indigenous Women & Their Daughters, 1854-1934,” and Panel Organizer, “Indigenous Legal Histories,” American Society for Legal History Conference, October 2014.
  • “Bring Me the Body: Habeas Corpus Petitions as Contestations of Colonial Power in the North American West, 1864-1898,” and Panel Organizer, “Gendered Encounters in Imperial Legal Regimes,” Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, May 2014.
  • “Louisa Enick and the Allotment Controversy in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest,” Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, 2013
  • “Personal and Political Sovereignty in the Spaces Between: Yavapai and Sauk-Suiattle Women’s Land Claims at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” Western History Association Conference, October 2013.
  • “ ‘The First Time Was Against My Will and Consent’: Indigenous and American Perceptions of Legal Consent in Washington, 1853-1900,” and Panel Organizer, “Coercion, Consent, and Citizenship in the North American West: American Legal Regimes and Marginalized Women’s Sexual Vulnerability in the Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuries,” Western Association of Women’s History Conference, 2013.
  • “Mapping Race and Sexuality in the Puget Sound,” Directions West: Third Biennial Western Canadian Studies Conference, June 2012.
  • “The Family Jewell: A Metis History of San Juan Island and Puget Sound,” San Juan Historical Museum, 2012
  • “Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Narrative and Method in Anti-Colonial Indigenous Histories,” and Roundtable Organizer, “Critical Archiving: Locating Women’s Voices in Official Repositories,” Western Association of Women Historians Conference, 2012.
  • “American Indian Women Claiming Space and Power in Arizona, 1853-1935,” Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, 2011

Ph.D. in History, University of Arizona
MA in American Indian Studies, University of Arizona
BA in History and English, Lawrence University


North American West, U.S. Legal History, Race, Ethnicity, and Gender