Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked!

Alaskan Bush People Discovery Channel

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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.


    • I think they are morons!!. They acted stupid!!. Clueless as to what it take to live in the bush. If discovery chanel did pay the seat people to build their cabin on their fake lease land the morons would of froze to death in there fake home stead. That’s why they live in town over the pizza shop raking up fishing fines for not having a fishing license among the bunch. The show should be canceled.!!!


  2. I confess that that I do like the show. At least it’sa show that a family with young children can watch. However, it should not be called a reality show because it’s not if a lot of this info on the Internet is fact in any way. The Browns are looking more like a pack of jungle gypsies than the wolf pack that they claim to be. It’s easy to see that a lot of the stuff that they claim came from the junk yard is brand new. The generator they left with isn’t the one that they fired up at the house and lots of other stuff appears to be fresh out of a hardware store. Anyone who knows how to hunt deer can easily see that they have no idea how to hunt them. To stalk a deer after climbing a mountain not having had a hot bath in weeks you would need to be down wind with 60 mph winds. Rolling in mud isn’t going to magically kill the scent of someone who smells like a dead fish. It’s just too easy to see that most of the show is scripted. Yes, it’s entertaining, but call it what it is. A family series show. Not a documentary or reality show. If they are criminal actors then so be it. They aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Hopefully they are getting paid so that they can pay back all the people they reportedly ripped off. Hey, it is what it is. It was made to be entertaining and that it is! I hope they teach bush Barbie how to use makeup so the little girls watching don’t start looking like they just lost a fist fight.

  3. I wonder when Billy gets these seizures, has he had any tests to see if he has parasites? If so and it comes out positive, it’s possible that there could be a cure, depending (if it is parasites) your out in the wilderness and it’s a possibility that one comes in contact with parasites. Also there are simple remedies, like black walnut drops etc. etc.
    From a concern viewer

  4. Could you just give it a break, no one’s complaint about the trashy Kardashian , or the tranny Bruce Jenner, now that’s ugly, Leave The Alaskan Bush people alone, no one is forcing you to watch them,I certainly don’t watch the shows listed above or waste my time trashing them or commenting on them

  5. I would like to know what the real deal is. They owe Alaskan government money back, but why? Where were they living if not Alaska? And david, chill out guy. You seem to be pretty wound up about this family. Maybe don’t watch the show or visit sites related to the Brown family. If you are looking for a cause I just saw something about Bruce/Kate Jenner. Now there is a hot mess for you to contribute to. All jokes aside though I would much rather my kids watch this show than any other shows on television. But remember, that’s just my opinion.

    • Yes, if people are just going to complain, they should maybe quit watching. But, I think the problem lies with how the producers and the family wanted us to perceive or really believe they were some kind of real life self sustainable ‘wolfpack’ 365 days a year and that they rely only on their hunting, gathering, gardening, boating and bartering skills. Sure, its entertaining, but as Americans, we always will call BS when it starts feeling like the wool is trying to be pulled over our eyes! And now in the age of the ‘net’ and reality TV, people are still naive as ever and want to trust everything they read and see there to be 100% true. They want to feel secure in their thoughts and when what seems to be a wholesome, God fearing American family tells them they’re ‘Wild’, by golly, they had better be authentically WILD! I, myself, am still trying to hang in there, because I find the show entertaining and they’re not bleeping every other word out of their mouths. Also, they’re not throwing the whole LBGT lifestyle in our faces like many shows do. But, it is starting to ride that thin fine line where one has to decide, is all the BS really worthwhile? Just come out and be honest and say you all live in town or near it in the dead of winter, that daddy is a writer and book tours across the states have happened, that Bam really has no idea how to operate a boat, that you all get into fights when people moon you, that the family as a whole makes darn good money from the show, that eventually Matt will be heading to Hollywood to become an actor and last but not least, the family will be starring in a spinoff titled, Beverly Bush Hillbillies. It really doesn’t sound too far fetched when you think about it. Instead of striking oil,
      they struck fame. It just would have been much more believable had the producers thought about how the public was going to pry and that these people have a past. If Billy and Bam end up having to spend time in jail for not being full-time Alaskan residents, I hope you all saved your pennies, because I doubt if society is going to be very accepting of all the lies. If anyone ever learns anything, it’s that people will always be much more accepting of trying and failing as long as they’re being told the truth. P.S. Three minutes in one episode explaining that you have always sheltered your sons from becoming ‘grown ups’, does not account for the fact that not a one of them is expertly skilled at any one work trade. I’ve never seen such crazy, unsafe behavior in hunting, boating, knife handling, fishing, carpentry, etc… in my life. You all want to learn how to thrive on ‘living’ in Alaska(instead of just barely surviving), watch The Final Frontier, Port Protection or Life Below Zero. These people have expertly honed survival skills!

  6. What PROOF do you have they are scamming people when all they do is Barter for goods?.. I guess you missed those episodes.

    • Wow Dick head from TN. Sorry if you believe everything you read. As for receiving help, sometimes people need it. When it comes to owing Alaska money, I don’t know enough to respond, other than as long as they pay it back. I pray that if you need help someday it will be there for you. Yes, I’m sure you’re a hard worker and always have been. I’m the same way, but when I broke my neck I went broke and I still can’t get help from the state. All in all the main thing is they’re working and paying their way for now.

  7. I really enjoy watching the show been watching since day one. I can say from a friends experience that living a subsistence lifestyle is a big challenge but I find it kinda silly that the family says they like the bears. But they are a big nuances .bear meat is edible if cooked properly. The Browns should ad bean bags to there arsenal to chase off intruder bears. Shooting bullets into the air is a waste of expensive ammunition. More power to the brown family

    • I am over 70 and do not become enamored with many things at my age. But I absolutely love to watch this show. Their familial closeness, caring for and looking after each other, simple ways, almost total indifference to material goods impresses me. I feel a whiff of fresh air, and gobs of human warmth, when I watch their show. And I keep watching the even the repeat episodes. I have difficulty understanding why they are struggling so hard for lack of money. Actors have to be paid, why aren’t the producers not paying them compensation enough to build cabins for all seven children, for some basic furniture for each cabin, for 3-4 boats, and cell phones for each, including the parents. And if per chance a rule or your arrangement with the Brown family prohibits you from paying them, you could issue an appeal to public at large. I do not want to tempt them family away from their chosen way of life, but they do not have to be lacking in the most basic, rudimentary stuff they can use.
      Arun K. Chhabra

  8. I,ve said all along to my wife that my very first impression of those people is that they are classic bums and system abusers I personally believe that more truths are gonna come out they probably have panhandled gotten food stamps free food from churches and every other low life scam known to those types of people and what about Billy being a child” molester” ? come on you know there getting paid look at there progression since the show started they have land guns tools and Noah your really a fucking moron but with some education i think you have real chance at make a real living but i think there all to lazy to work real jobs

  9. I find it very interesting that no mention is ever made that ALL reality stars have to get some sort of compensation. So how come at least the fact that they are being paid by the Discovery channel is never addressed? I am not asking that you specifically address how much they are being paid for each episode but at least be honest and admit that yes, they are getting paid per episode by Discovery channel. The viewing public are not idiots and to act like we are takes away from the Discovery channels creditability if they won’t at least address the “elephant in the room”!

  10. I just am hoping and praying for the entire Brown family doing their wolf calls from a State or Federal Prison. I am sure the other inmates would show them some “Love” on their actions. So Ami can fret some more about her boys finding true love. Sorry but no hope of grand kids there! The only downside to this is just maybe the state would fix all of their teeth at taxpayers expense.

    With all of the negative publicity this show has received you would sure expect them to address the criminal issues so they could put their own spin on it. But then that could also be used against them in court. Discovery must have something up their sleeve to ensure their cash cow can go forward and I expect an investigation into any settlement to be given much exposure so we call all decide if we want to reelect anyone involved in it.

    • I don’t think Discovery has much up their sleeve. I am sure they are trying to figure out how far to let this go before they axe the show. This cash cow is pretty much going up in smoke before their eyes. The judge presiding over this case looks like he isn’t going to except any deal that doesn’t involve jail time for some of the Browns.

    • Hey Mr. Negativity,
      Why should they be in jail?. They bust their ass and have the bodies to prove it, why would they deserve jail?.. Because they live free?.. Only people with guts would do what they do by living off the damn grid. You must be envious, jealous or whatever, there always has to be a “Debbie Downer” and that is you, no matter where you go these days!!

        • Thank you, finally, people standing up for the Browns! What the heck do you care if they owe the state of Alaska money or not, Mr. Kintzi? They’re waaaaaaay better off than you are or ever will be, with that attitude! Everyone who watches the show wants to have a family as strong and close as they have, but it doesn’t mean we should tear them down! Maybe we should spread positivity and RESPECT like the Browns do, and maybe try to be closer to our own families.

      • This is coverage from a local television station in Alaska. This is why everyone says they deserve to be in jail. Because the judge over their case says that’s what he believes they deserve and turned down their plea agreement to make his point. I’m interested how the production company and Discovery Channel handle this one. More wool?

    • Why do you look for the bad in others, why do is bad make you happy, I love the show and I believe in them, all I say, unless you have made no mistakes in your life, be careful of stones that you throw.

      • I agree wholeheartedly. It’s been years since my family has been able to sit down together and enjoy a show about REAL PEOPLE, not characters, and not have to worry about an R-rated comment or other sexual themes (like the Kardashians or others). The Browns seem like wonderful people, and wouldn’t we ALL like to be a part of a family like theirs?

  11. I enjoy the show and definitely would hate to see it removed from the air. They aren’t perfect, but then they never claimed to be. I would much rather spend an evening watching them than being inflicted with the
    Kardashians, Real wives of Beverly Hills (and every other city in the US), hearing about Bruce Jenners’ sex change and what she is wearing to the next celebrity dinner!! At least these people are real. The “Real Wives” weren’t cancelled when one of them & her husband went to prison for filing false income tax records.
    Give Billy public service, make him repay some of the money and move on the the next season.

    • Love it! Now we are down to the point where fans of the show not only don’t care about theft, fraud, and wildlife violations, but fairness would be to pay back some of the money they stole from Alaskans (feel free to keep a portion of it) and do a few hours of community service. Wow, that is such a great idea. So basically you are ENCOURAGING people to steal money. Amazing

  12. Its so sad to see everyone criticize a show He who is without sin cast the first stone. Theyre not perfect, but none of us are. We truly enjoy the show. Again we like the family life idea of caring about one another and enjoying one anothers company. Please dont take it off the air. There is too much gargage on and this reality show is enjoyable, not phoney and not about sex and any stupid drama, Its reality in Alaska. Not an easy state to live in but beautiful scenery,

    • So you have also lied on legal documents that were sworn statements and stole $20,900 of public money, all the while lying to the public about your past in order to profit from a made up TV show that you claim is the truth? Good to know.
      Fans of this show are really fascinating. Because they enjoy the show, all morals and ethics are throw out the window. I am so interested where the line in the sand is where people would say… “yea, that is enough. I can’t support this”. Would it be assault, armed robbery, cruelty to animals, racism, dropping the N word, murder? I am honestly fascinated by this. If somebody were to pitch this show now most people would not support it because of the illegal activity and how made up it is. But because people now feel emotionally invested, then the moral line has been moved a long way.

  13. I don`t care what they plead to I LOVE THE SHOW IT IS A BETTER SHOW THAN SOME OF THE OTHER REALITY SHOWS ON TV .Everyone makes mistakes and learn from them they are good people and I enjoy watching them please don`t take them off because of some people and their remarks . they can change stations if they want.

    • Actually I have know a number of people in my life that didn’t learn from their mistakes and basically kept doing dumb stuff over and over again. So not everybody learns from their mistakes.
      Why do you think the Browns are such good people? Because that is what you saw on TV? They are looking at going to jail for stealing about $20,900. If they are so good than I would be curious who you think is bad.
      I am sorry Nancy but when Discovery calls me to decide whether to cancel the show or keep it I am going to have to ax it.

    • Does anyone remember Duck Dynasty? The Brown family is very similar to the Robertsons. Good Christian people who love each other. And so many people can’t stand other people being happy. Well, to quote Taylor Swift, “the haters gonna hate,” I just hope Discovery decides to take a hint from A&E and keep the show. My family has watched from the first episode and will continue until Alaskan Bush People goes off the air.

      • Phil Robertson stated his opinion about homosexuality. He didn’t actually commit a crime. He didn’t find himself being prosecuted legally. Just by others and their opinions. The same thing he was suspended for in the first place. Also, I don’t see the Robertsons living that fake of a life. They have actually made reference to how much money they make. But, with some class I might add. I believe what bothers people the most, is, yes, the Browns are very likable. But, there are just turning out to be way too many inconsistencies. A lot of Duck Dynasty is most likely setup and every other reality show out there. But, they are not tugging at our heartstrings to feel sorry for them or if they are, once again, people are consistent with their struggles and hard times in life. People just want to be told the truth about life’s hard knocks. I don’t know the percentages, but if you look at reality shows and the ones that had some kind of scandal surface, the ones that were based on Americas middle to lower class, were just axed by production companies. Shows like the Kardashians, real housewives, mob wives, etc… thrive on scandals and the people in the shows do as well. Their lives are soap operas. And before anyone tries to call me rude names or anything of that nature, please don’t. I have respected everyone else’s opinion and that’s what everyone is doing here. People that comment usually just enjoy a good debate. Just like politics and religion. Everyone has an opinion. I welcome your comments if it involves something thought provoking. If its to call me a vulgar name or to get vulgar in any way, just keep all ignorant thoughts and comments to yourselves. Believe you me, no one respects or appreciates it. If they do, their IQ is more than likely one that resembles an acorn or hyena.

        • Thank you for being so respectful! I really appreciate that. My point was more that the Browns are so likeable- that’s why so many people dislike them; they can’t stand to see other people happy- and less trying to compare the crime to a controversial comment. But again, it is so refreshing to see someone gently point out something online rather than violently disagree.

          • You’re very welcome A! It was nice getting a positive response and to hear your opinion without getting called everything but a White Man, uh, uh, uh, I mean, Irish American Caucasian Male! And that does help, I believe – having a usually majority female name. When people see it signed Shannon, they are not as mean. They don’t expect a 39 year old male. But, anyways, thank you for your cordial reply and have a great new year! P.S. I did see where they put the hearing off from the 22nd to somewhere in mid January, or somewhere around there. It’s gonna be a sad day in Browntown if they do get jail time. I do not envy that!

  14. We ask for a reality show on an Alaskian family and you gave it to us. Now when actual reality comes into play and it’s not pretty, everyone wants to abandon the show and the family. Nobody’s perfect so expecting the Browns to be is ludicrous.

    • Huge difference from slightly changing the facts for filming, or just spicing things up a bit to make for better TV than pleading guilty to theft of public funds and lying about it on legal documents. Nobody is asking anybody to be perfect, let alone the Browns, but not being thieves and liars might be a good start.
      I have zero idea what it would take for you Shirley to not want to follow the Browns. All of the above, and by pleading guilty to the charges they just admitted they completely lied to you about their story being true. They have basically admitted their entire show is a completely made up fairy tale as they weren’t even living in Alaska but in a neighborhood in Texas. I think some of the people who did enjoy the show are now bailing because the Browns are looking pretty darn slimy at the moment. Why would anybody in their right mind continue to support this is beyond me. But please, enjoy the show.

      • Oh Shut up already!
        They have a hard life and are not getting rich, you should worry more about your Politicians than picking on a family with a wonderful bond in which you don’t see too much of these days.

  15. I can think of a lot of ways to describe the Brown family. However, hardworking and honest is definitely not an accurate description. I stopped watching the show last year as I became aware of how fake it was, the dishonest posing of the Brown family and a suspicion they were scamming a lot of people. What they portray on tv is far from the reality of this “family”. Good riddance.

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About Ryan Berenz 1987 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.