John F. Boatman

Senior Lecturer and Instructional Program Coordinator

John Boatman taught American Indian Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for 32 years before retiring in 2002.

Of Me’tis, Ojibwe and Menominee American Indian, and Swedish, French and Belgian heritage, John Boatman was a favorite with students of all backgrounds and interests. Boatman said he endeavored to teach students “to take responsibility for ensuring that their grandchildren and great grandchildren can breathe the air and see and smell the flowers and drink the waters and see the birds and animals of our Earth Mother.” Before coming to UWM, Boatman served in Washington, D.C., as chief of staff to Wisconsin Congressman Alvin E. O’Konski.

Boatman was born on April 9, 1935 and passed on June 17, 2010.

Courses taught:

Ethnic Studies
Ethnic 102: The United States Ethnic Experience: Immigration from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe
Ethnic 203: Western Great Lakes American Indian Community Life of the Past
Ethnic 250: From Ireland to Wisconsin
Ethnic 497: Irish Experience (L&S Overseas Program in Ireland)
Ethnic 699: Advanced Independent Work


Boatman, John F. My Elders Taught Me: Aspects of Western Great Lakes American Indian Philosophy, University Press of America. (1992).

Summary: John F. Boatman examines various aspects of a selection of Western Great Lakes American Indian philosophical traditions and beliefs. He combines over forty years of stories, anecdotes, and observations learned from Western Great Lakes tribal elders into a coherent and thought-provoking philosophical text that challenges readers to look beyond their own cultural prepossessions and discover a method of asking questions where the answers come from within. See University Press of America website

Memorial Cedar and Plaque

Cedar tree planted in honor of John Boatman john-boatman_plaque