Jacob Jurss

Jurss photo
I am a  Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University in the department of history. My dissertation, “Contested Authority: The Indigenous Borderlands of the Western Great Lakes,” re-imagines the Lake Superior region as an indigenous borderland where kinship ties affected how power and authority operated. Environmental resources, including wild rice and maple sugar were vital to Ojibwe and Dakota communities living in the region. My research closely examines the events surrounding the 1825 Prairie du Chien treaty council. Officially, United States government officials called the council to create peace between indigenous nations through the creation of boundaries lines. However, American Indian participation in the treaty was far more complicated than American reports indicated. Tribal leaders had their own agenda for the treaty and some leaders used the council to expand their claims to territory. Others resisted the efforts of U.S. officials who insisted on establishing borders between tribal communities. Many leaders were far more concerned with rival tribes rather than the United States government and used the gathering to meet with each other outside of the official council where many of the true deliberations occurred. My research details the politics of treaty making, explores aspects of authority, and discusses the impact of the environment on the socio-political climate of the region.

Teaching Experience:

HST 379: Native American History Since 1830: Instructor
HST 202: U.S. History to 1876: Teaching Assistant

IAH 201: US and the World: Teaching Assistant

I received my B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin and served for a year with the AmeriCorps program in St. Paul, MN before enrolling at Michigan State University. When not researching, teaching, or writing I enjoy playing soccer, running, and riding my bicycle. I also enjoy exploring and hiking through America’s forests and lakes.

Jurss CV

Click here to read more about my research.


Year in Program: 5th Year

Dr. Susan Sleeper-Smith

Dr. Thomas Summerhill
Dr. Mindy Morgan
Dr. Peter Beattie

Fields of Interest:
United States; North America
American Indian; Native Studies
Borderlands; Environmental history

Ph.D. Candidate Michigan State University
(ABD 2015; Dissertation Defended 2016)

B.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011)
(Honors in the Major of History)

Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)