The Alaskan Bush People Aren't Exactly Telling You The Whole Truth About Their Identity

In this day and age, it can be hard to fathom that there are still people homesteading, living off the labors of their land, and leading a truly pioneering lifestyle. But if the Discovery Channel is to be believed, Alaskan Bush People are doing these things and doing them well. There's just one problem: plenty of evidence suggests that Alaskan Bush People is fake.

Over the course of the show's seven seasons, rumors of the truth about Alaskan Bush People have slowly leaked. Sources range from people who work on the series to Alaska locals who know the Brown family, and some of the information comes directly from public records. Wherever it originates, there is more than a little support for the idea that Alaskan Bush People behind the scenes is quite different from how it comes off in front of the camera. And if it's staged, it may actually be one of the weirdest reality shows on televison

So, is Alaskan Bush People fake? Read on below to learn more about Ami Brown, Bam Bam and the rest of the cast and show to decide for yourself.


  • They Aren't From Alaska

    On first glance, you'd think the Brown family were dyed-in-the-wool Alaskans: true bush people who intimately know the land and how to live on it. But the Browns aren't really from Alaska at all. In fact, they're relative newcomers to The Last Frontier. Although dad Billy and mom Ami arrived with their kids in the '80s, they don't have generational ties to the land. Billy grew up as a wealthy Texan whose parents were killed in a plane crash when he was in his teens. 

    After some time in Alaska they moved their family back to the continental US but returned to Alaska four years later to film an autobiographical documentary which turned into the Discovery show. However, Billy kept legal residency in Colorado and Texas, which later led the family to face fines and jail time for illegally sport fishing without a license. 

  • Those Aren't Their Real Names

    Bear? Bam Bam? Birdy? Those wacky Browns - giving their kids such outlandish names to match their wild lifestyle in the bush! Umm... not so fast. Those are nicknames. Bear's real name is Solomon, Bam Bam's real name is Joshua, and Birdy is named after mother Ami (Amora).

    Once you know the truth, it's not quite so exotic anymore.

  • The Show Is (Allegedly) Based On A Book

    In 2007, patriarch Billy Brown wrote a memoir called One Wave at a Time. There has been a persistent rumor that after the book was published, the Browns tried to promote it and sell the rights to producers. The family then came to Alaska with a film crew in an attempt to recreate the story told in the book.

    What was meant to be a one-season documentary series snowballed into Alaskan Bush People.

  • They've Scammed The System

    The Browns likely aren't as self-sufficient as they would have us believe. Billy and Bam Bam were found guilty of filing false information on government forms. They claimed they lived in Alaska from 2009 to 2012 and, based on this information, were given dividend checks for those years totaling almost $21,000.

    The pair tried to strike a plea deal, but the judge wasn't having it. They spent 30 days in jail and were fined.

  • They May Not Live That Far From Civilization

    On the show, it looks as if the Browns live miles--days, even--from any other signs of civilization. In reality, they may have next-door neighbors and only be a short drive from town. Oldest Brown son Matt was arrested "after a long night of partying and sex" when he fled the scene of an accident caused while he was driving drunk in Juneau, one of Alaska's biggest cities.

    Compared to other urban centers, Juneau (pop. 33,853) may not be very large. But it certainly sets up a different scene for "the bush people." Where exactly the Browns live in relation to Juneau isn't entirely clear. Also, in 2014 the Browns fled after hearing gunshots on their land. The shots later turned out to be fireworks coming from their neighbor. Just how close are these neighbors?

  • They Stay In Luxury When The Cameras Are Off

    To hear the Browns tell it, they've been subsisting off the Alaskan frontier for three decades. That might be a small stretch of the truth; really, that might be a big fat lie. Locals insist the Browns are spending their time at the Icy Strait Lodge - a resort in Hoonah, Alaska - when the show isn't filming.

    Members of the show's crew have also been spotted at the lodge, leading many to think the Brown's Alaskan adventures are really just a drama cooked up by the folks at Discovery.