True North Boats
True North Boats

About Us

Thank you for your interest in True North Boats.

At True North Boats we're driven by a passion for building the traditional skin-on-frame oceancraft of the far north. We create one-of-a-kind custom kayaks, teach skin boat building workshops, and are committed to helping traditional skin boat building thrive in the Native communities where it was originally invented and developed. We are deeply grateful to those Native peoples who are the rightful heirs and owners of this technology.

Builder-owner, Marc Daniels has been building, restoring, and paddling skin-on-frame sea kayaks and open skin boats since the 1980s, always pulled forward by a fascination for the oceancraft of northern Native peoples. He believes that there was little that the ancient inventors of skin-on-frame boat technology didn’t understand about boat design and ocean dynamics, and that they incorporated this deep understanding into the vessels they trusted their lives to. That intricate knowledge of how to build these fine and seaworthy vessels had been passed orally from one generation to the next for thousands of years before becoming virtually lost with the arrival of outside cultures to the far north over the past two centuries. Today the subtlties and secrets of ancient skin boat technology can only be found encoded deep in the bones of the few remaining vessels held in museums and in rare journal accounts written by the first explorers to encounter Native skin boat cultures. Marc has been exploring these mysteries for decades through the close study of those museum specimens and journals, and by replicating and re-building the few surviving skin boats in Native communities throughout coastal Alaska. He loves sharing what he’s discovered over the years through the “build your own” classes he offers and by tailor-building skin boats for paddling enthusiasts. Marc continues to spend summers in the Aleutian, Pribilof, and Shumagin Islands of Alaska, leading traditional boat building projects at culture camps with Native Unangax youth and elders.

True North’s commitment to the revival of traditional boatbuilding culture in Alaska’s Native communities led us to create Make Access Iqyax Apprenticeships in 2014 as a Dream-Maker project of the Ink People Center for the Arts. This non-profit program is aimed at providing full-immersion traditional boat building instruction for Native Alaskans and at sharing those cultures with cultures outside of Alaska. We enjoy hosting our apprentices at the True North shop during the winter months and we welcome you to come by during that time. 

 

Ten percent of True North Boats’ profits are donated to the Make Access program. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Donations can be made to Make Access through The Ink People Center for the Arts. Thank you!