Who are the Alaskan Bush People?
“Alaskan Bush People” started airing on the Discovery Channel in 2014, filmed on location in Hoonah, Alaska as well as on Chichagof Island. It follows the life of the extended Brown family, a family said to have lived – some would say survived – most of their life without contact with other people. The show recently launched a new season, now filmed on a new location in Washington State. However, the show has received a lot of criticism for being scripted and fake.
The Riches of the Alaskan Bush People
How rich are the Alaskan Bush People? As of late-2018, sources inform us of a net worth that is over $60 million collectively, as the family members have earned a significant amount of money from the show. As they continue their endeavors, and work with the show, it is expected that their wealth will also continue to increase.
According to interviews, and the show, parents Billy and Ami Brown – both born in Texas – married in 1979, when he was 26 and she 15, and the two then decided to start their life together, surviving on their own. They had their first son, Matt Brown when the two lived on a boat, travelling while surviving. Eventually the two decided to move to Alaska and survive on their own there. They would have other children with the next including Bam Bam Brown, Bear Brown, Gabe Brown, and Noah Brown. They then had two daughters Birdy Brown and Rain Brown who is the youngest in the family. They said to have lived in Alaska without much contact from the outside world and there was even a time when they didn’t have contact from anyone for a few years except the family. During the early part of the show, they were seen travelling to various parts of Alaska, building temporary shelters and homesteads. However, with the lack of proper means to stay in one place they often left for another. Eventually, they decided to establish a more permanent homestead located on Chichagof Island. To help them survive in one location, they bartered labor, wood, and transportation services for the items they need.
The Browns live by their own laws…the laws of survival.
During their popularity gained from the TV series, the Alaskan government, particularly the Alaska Department of Revenue started an investigation of the family regarding a possible residency issue. Prior to the show, the family applied for help through the Permanent Fund Dividend. They were able to get more than $13,000 in dividend money for themselves and for others. However, the application required that the family spent no more than 180 days a year living outside of Alaska, but they lied on their application, having spent a lot of time out of the state, and were then charged with 60 counts of first-degree unsworn falsification.
They were also charged with first- and second-degree theft, which took place over a span of three years. Billy Brown was charged in 24 of those accounts while he and Joshua plead guilty to lying on PFD forms. They then spent 30 days in jail as a part of the sentence. When the news broke out, numerous publications and critics of the show started spreading the word that the family weren’t really who they said they were, that is, not long-time natives of Alaska, and displayed a very different persona on television compared to what they actually did when there were no cameras. The show was then accused of being scripted and fake.
With these initial accusations about the family, more people started delving into the family’s history, and discovered more inaccuracies. Reports stated that Billy Brown actually wrote a book prior to the show, entitled “c” and was looking for a way to turn it into a film or television show. Some of their claims on the show cannot be corroborated as well, including the time they stated that their cabin burned down. The property where their house sits on isn’t actually theirs, and during shooting it was reported that the family was actually staying inside a lodge rather than the house.
Wishing a VRY Happy Birthday week to Snowbird (11/18) and Rain Brown (11/23)!
Doesn't the time fly 🕊 pic.twitter.com/Vim4Iyelk1
— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) November 20, 2018
While the family preached that they lived in true isolation, they actually had neighbors; there was even a pizza shop near the place where they were filming. News quickly spread that some of their neighbors became increasingly frustrated with the noise the television crew was making. There was also an episode in which one of the cast members, Bear had a date who was featured on the show, and who turned out to be a Californian actress who was hired for the episode. There was also a time when a woman stepped forward, claiming that the producers of the show duped her into thinking that she was going to be a part of a dating show.
With increasing tensions in Alaska, many knew that the family’s time in the state and in the show was reaching the precipice. The family made a public announcement that the matriarch of the family, Ami was diagnosed with stage-3 lung cancer and for her to get proper treatment, the family had to move to Southern California. The doctors stated that she only had a three percent chance of survival. She started treatment, and recovered over time until eventually stating that the sickness had gone into remission.
The eighth season of the show was then released in 2018, with the family now moving to a new location in Washington State. However, more reports started surfacing of how the family continued this image of living in isolation, while purchasing an expensive house in the area. The neighbors also started making noise complaints once more, and were getting reports of over-protective camera crews. Some of the cast members were also seen in town and they were acting awkwardly, seemingly not genuine. Despite all of this, the show’s popularity continues to remain steady with the TV audience.