The phylogenetic placement of the North American band-winged grasshopper Shotwellia isleta (Gurney 1940) (Orthoptera: Acrididae: Oedipodinae) has been investigated. This rare and unique species of grasshopper belongs to a monotypic genus known only from a few isolated locations in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico and New Mexico, USA. The taxonomic status of Shotwellia has been uncertain and historically classified in very different ways relative to other genera. We conducted the first molecular phylogenetic cladistic analysis of Shotwellia and of the Chortophaga (Saussure) genus group in which it is currently classified, using three mitochondrial genes (16S, 12S and cytochrome c oxidase II), 14 morphological characters and two behavioral characters. Our analysis supports the current monotypic status of the genus Shotwellia within the Chortophaga genus group and indicates that Shotwellia is sister to the other genera in that group. Shotwellia isleta is a species of conservation concern, and our field sampling indicates that it is a rare specialist of freshwater ephemeral desert lake beds that are being impacted by human activity. Understanding the phylogeny of S. isleta provides a basis from which biological, evolutionary and conservation inferences can be made.