Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked!

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The possibility had been on the table for a while, and I finally took up the opportunity to do a phone Q&A with the entire Brown family of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People.

I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d do with the interview after it was done. I knew it definitely wouldn’t be a promotional puff piece. The Browns are a family with a lot of off-camera issues, and there are so many inconsistencies between what we’ve seen on TV and what’s been reported publicly, that I wouldn’t be doing my job if I ignored them. Viewers and readers have many questions, and I was hoping to give them answers. I also wanted to give the Browns the opportunity to tell their side of the story and respond to critics and allegations. I figured there was a snowball’s chance I’d get answers, but there would be zero chance if I didn’t ask.

So here’s my Q&A with the Browns.

Channel Guide Magazine: Billy, Browntown is starting to expand in Season 3 with the boys all building homes of their own. But there seems to be some more competition for space and resources. In the first episode you run out of lumber because —
Billy: Very mild way to put it. What seemed like a very empty forest all of a sudden is a very busy neighborhood and our neighbors are quite rowdy.

The family’s always cooperated. How do you balance that cooperation and competition?
Billy: Really there’s not much we can do about it. It just makes it were you can’t relax very much, is what it really boils down to. Because we like living with the bears. We all do. But it gets to the point sometimes where there’s just so many, and so many come at you at once. At certain times of the year, it’s unrelenting. It really is. And it just gets to where, to be honest with you, it gets to be a real hassle because every time you walk out of the house, you’ve got to deal with a bear. And when you’re dealing with them, you never really know what kind of bear you’re dealing with, if he’s a friendly, or just looking around or if he’s just downright hungry. So it makes it a real hassle.

[I realize here that Billy probably misunderstood the question due to a problem with the volume on their speakerphone.]

I guess my question was more about in the family with the boys having their own cabins. The family’s always cooperated, but now you’re in a situation where the boys are building their own homes, they’re kind of competing against each other for resources within the family. You run out of lumber. How do you balance that cooperation with that sense that they need to become their own individuals?
Bam Bam: Basically, it’s the same that we’ve always been, because there’s always that little bit of competition between brothers or siblings. It’s just a different form of competition, I guess. But we’re all real ready to help each other when there’s the lumber shortage and stuff like that to give each other what they would need. There’s definitely that bit of competition for us to try and finish your one place first or your project first or something like that.
Ami: We as parents basically just sit back and referee and try to help them settle any discrepancies they might have.

Ami, there was a lot of unexpected drama last season when your brother and mother tried to contact you. Can you tell us if there has been any further attempts to contact them or any attempt at reconciliation?
Ami: Well, my mother, she sent me a necklace, but I haven’t contacted back yet. No, there’s been no contact whatsoever.

Ami, how are you feeling? How are the teeth? That was a big issue that you dealt with last season.
Ami: They’re perfectly wonderful, and I’m quite pleased that that’s all settled.

How does it feel being recognized by people or tourists when you’re in Hoonah? That’s probably something that you’ve never had to deal with before.
Ami: No, I’ve never had to deal with anything like that before. But everyone that I’ve met and we’ve met being out, everyone is so nice and has the kindest things to say.

Matt, I love Kenny from the junkyard. I think Kenny needs to become an honorary member of the Brown family. I could just watch you and Kenny bulldoze stuff in the junkyard all day. Would you consider doing a spinoff show or going into business with him?
Matt: [Laughs] I might consider it! I don’t know. He’s a heck of a character, though, isn’t he? He’s a good guy.

He is. He’s kind of crazy, but he’s really actually very witty and clever in the stuff that he says.
Matt: Yeah, that’s it. That’s a bush boy for you. We might be totally loco, but we still have a few things rattling around upstairs.

How’s the tire hut?
Matt: Not bad. I recently had a bear push down one of my walls. But that’s the advantage of building with tires. Something knocks them over, you can just restack it.

I am a huge fan of The Skiff. I think The Skiff is like the greatest boat ever made. How is The Skiff doing and how does The Skiff end up putting out a fire?
Gabe: We ended up dumping a skiff full of water after we had thawed the ice that was in it. And we dumped the skiff full of water onto the fire to put it out.

I was concerned that there might have been a fire in The Skiff at first, but I’m glad that’s not the case. Of all the boats that you guys have owned, The Skiff has been the most reliable.
Gabe: It’s gotten us where we’re going. There always seems to be something with it. It always seems to be breaking down or that kind of thing.

Billy, how’s the shipping business going?
Billy: Actually, it’s going pretty good. We’ve been kind of amazed with it especially with all the hassles we’ve had and everything else. But it’s going pretty good.

Any big fixes or upgrades to the Integrity?
Billy: It’s just a lot of small stuff. It’s just constant, like with the old boat.

So the hull is fixed permanently?
Billy: Well, for now.

Billy, you’ve said many times that living in the bush is the ultimate freedom. I guess I’ve always wondered why you would want to live life in the public eye and give up your privacy and have a television show if in fact you want that ultimate freedom?
Billy: We were naïve. I think that was it. [Laughs] We didn’t know. We didn’t realize what would happen. We were naïve, I think. We really thought that maybe we could just show people our world and that would kind of be the end of it. We didn’t realize that it would build up where it was, to where our world kind of became everyone’s world. It’s still cool. It’s a little bit more than we expected.

[A Discovery Channel representative declined to have the Browns comment on the last three questions below because they involved legal matters and wages.]

Billy, there are many viewers who are concerned for your family, and believe that you’re forced to live in the bush because you’re poor or something. Some readers have wanted to know how to send you money or care packages. Is the family compensated for the show by Park Slope or Discovery Channel?

Billy, I saw video of an altercation that your family had with I believe some of the Skaflestads on a dock in Hoonah. Can you tell us what happened in that incident — how it was started and how it got resolved?

Lastly, Billy, I wanted to give you the opportunity to tell your side of the story regarding the allegations that the family illegally claimed the Alaskan Permanent Fund dividend. Do you have any comment on those allegations?

I got to talk about The Skiff, Kenny from the junkyard, Ami’s teeth and why they would do this show in the first place, so I hope that was informative and entertaining for longtime readers of the recaps. Obviously, there are a million more questions I coulda/shoulda asked: What really went down in Chitina? What really went down with The Opal? Who really owns the land on which Brownton Abbey is built? How are the accommodations at the Icy Strait Lodge? Who’s shooting your deer? What’s up with the fishing licenses? Why did Bear shave? Why does Rainy now look like a Bush Goth Tween?

And what kind of jackass writes a clickbait headline asking a question that doesn’t actually get answered in the article?

Sorry, guys. I tried.

16 Comments

  1. i just love this show,and i hope Billy gets better,as so Ami,i do understand that there is a legeal proboblem going on,,so does that give the critics the right to bad mouth them? i say we go into the backgrounds of them the critics,and did up some dirt on them,,,anyway,,i agree about building up a fence around browntown,,make it with something with spikes on it so the bears wont climb it,,just saying,,i do have to say the Joshua,aka. Bam, does have a anger issue with the siblings,,but he might have a reason?,Noah does need to updated some at least come up to this century,,,i do love his values on marriage and things like that,and i love it that he can make anything work out of nothing,,and Bear is a bit to extreme,,anyway they all have their own uniqueness,, if i had the money to do so i would buy them a new boat,for hauling,things,,,,,and build that fence,and build a better house,,ok i have said enough,,take care BROWN family,

  2. For Brown town why don’t they build a fort like fence around Brown town . like the place where they got the chickens from he had a good bear proof fence right

  3. First, thank you for reminding us ; amiricans , what made us amiricans great and strong.
    Second i jave much respect for all of you.

    Thrird you proved what happens when you raise your children with family values, morals, respect, to be accountable, responsible, to earn there keep. Wow your all amazing.

    Last ;states pay millions in advertising . what your family did for alaska and our country it is beyond me how the judge. Refuses to throw out the cases against your familly…

  4. I really love your show and hope you all are doing okay! Your family is the coolest and someday I would LOVE to meet all of you. Matt, God Bless, you are so HOT as well as you Bam. Anyway, you are all great and so so sweet. I love you all!!

  5. Ami, was wondering that you want the boys to find a lady, but what about Snowbird finding a guy? Love the show and how you live in the bush..

  6. Don’t quit the show!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m originally from Seattle and the beauty of the Northwest thrills me every time. And I love all your personalities…………….I love watching all the stuff you do and how you do it. Be safe and have a wonderful x-mas. Plus, you all have a great sense of humor……………….. xox!

  7. there is alot i want to share with all of you. i have alot of fun crafts for the untire family to do together and i want to sent them. but were do i . there is no address were you live. but i know one family member writes to a special friend and goes to the mail box post office. so i know some of you have a post office box. and another question. do you all ever get fan mail//? and gifts in the mail,ideas?do you have pen pa;s. if so./ how do i be your pen pal. writing by mail. ? if not. why not start a pen pal message letters threw the mail?God bless you all. and i love all of you. even though we haven’t met in person. its the inspiring and love threw your shows on tv. Love donise grace

    • I love the show. I think all the brothers are so unique. I’d love to write to them. I am so happy their dreams are coming true. Merry Christmas!

      • I really love the show.i. watch it ever week and the reruns. Who cares about there legal stuff. But i hate bam. He tries to be the boss ovet everything. And he is a straight outbut hole. Thinks he knows everthing snd wantsto run everything. Good luck to any woman who ever gets with ofhim. Of It wouldbe nice if they didnt show so much of him. And Matt has really tried to step up but bam wint let him

  8. hi family, i love you all. you all inspire me. one day/ soon .my son and i would love to come to your home and meet with all of you.i’ve been lookin for a new life. and even though you all go threw alot. you all are like from a wonderful story book, were dreams come true. you all give me hope.thank you for inspiring me. i never miss your shows on tv and i can watch the shows over and over and never get tired of seeing and hearing your wonderful voices. one thing i do want to say. bam. bam please show love to your brothers and sisters. when you be hard to them. you make it worse for yourself.and take care. share love always.not anger. be calm. learn to be more calm.stand back and relax. and to your dad. dad . just relax and rest./ enjoy/ and i loved you hugged all your sons with love after the boat trip, om their own. it was alot of damage on the boat,but your love beat the anger.thank you for showing love to them on their first time out on the water with out all of the family./ another thing i wanted to say. is cut alot of trees./you all have enough./ build yourselves a large fensh around your homes and keep your garden insde the fensh,then the bears can’t get in and destroy.make sure you all sharpen the wood on the top when standing it up into the dirt. you can make a big door to get in and out.your land will be closed in. but at least when you sleep and travel. your homes and land will be protected by your large wall of trees that surround your homes and camp ground. make sure you hand metal cans and meatal plates around the wooden fense on the outside,.for the metal scars the animals from trying to come in. i kept wondering why you all never cut tress down for your fense in the first place before you built your homes. im hoping to write in person threw the mail and i hope you all get my letter on here./because i didn;t know alska has computers and were do you come to read all of this? love always donise grace, minister and server of God. VOICES AND FACES MINISTRIES.

  9. I love all of yall I did live this life I also loved the freedom of life need a friend or wife ha ha here I I’m I love this family can’t wait to meet yall one doy

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About Ryan Berenz 1898 Articles
Devotee of Star Wars. Builder of LEGO. Observer of televised sports. Member of the Television Critics Association. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Connoisseur of beer. Consumer of cheese. Father of two. Husband of one. Scourge of the Alaskan Bush People. Font of Simpsons knowledge. Son of a Stonecutter.