400 Winslow Way East, #120
Bainbridge Island
Washington 98110
206 780-9500
Hours: Tues-Sat 11-6, Sun Noon-5, Closed on Mondays


Mark Braun

Mark Braun, retired physician, college professor and part-time anthropologist, lives during the year in Bloomington,Indiana. He and his wife of fifty years have spent summers on Bainbridge for the past 20 years, and still have many friends and acquaintances in the Puget Sound area. He has had a life-long interest in Native American water craft and was particularly taken with the elegance and simplicity of construction of Eskimo-style kayaks.

Mark has also had a life-long interest in Native Americans' technology, spiritualism, cosmology and art. His interest in Native American water craft stems from studies of the fur trade era in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River valley. Mark was investigating ways fur trade routes may have been conduits for the spread of infectious disease in the early colonial period when the birchbark canoe itself caught his interest. The idea and technology of composite construction of water craft fascinated him, so he sidetracked a bit and learned the craft of birchbark canoe construction. Using only hand tools, he built a full-size birchbark canoe and even used it to follow part of the river system used by the French, Indians and English of the fur trade period.

Mark’s interest in peoples of the Northwest Coast began in 1995 when he came to the Burke Museum in Seattle to study the art and tools of healers and shamans. As part of a university graduate program, Mark was looking for representations of disease in the art and imagery of the masks, rattles and aprons of native healers. He was quickly taken by the beauty and spiritual power of the regional art and has since dabbled in carving a few masks of his own. His interest in native water craft was rekindled when he saw the elegance and simplicity of construction of Eskimo-style kayaks.

Experiential study has always held his interest, so Mark set about the job of studying and building a center-seam Greenland Eskimo style kayak. He has since completed several. Power tools were used for a few steps of preparation of materials for the boat on display here, but otherwise the kayak was constructed by hand. All materials are from local sources. Its first launch was in Eagle Harbor here on Bainbridge Island, and Mark is eternally grateful that it didn’t rollover and dump him out. In fact, it has been a delight to use. It tracks straight and always draws attention. The carvings were fun to create, and Mark’s wife claims he made the kayak to have a reason to carve those ‘hood ornaments’. The paintings were inspired by Mark’s friend and local Bainbridge artist, James Bender.

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