Huge Scandals That Rocked Alaskan Bush People

"Alaskan Bush People" first aired in 2014 and has remained a staple of the Discovery channel since its initial season. The family, made up of the late patriarch, Billy Brown, his wife, Ami, and their seven children, took viewers through their forays into the wilderness of Alaska.

While the premise of "Alaskan Bush People" sounds utterly removed from urban life, rumors have circulated since its inception that things might not be as they seem on screen. Some viewers have questioned the authenticity of the rustic lifestyle of the Brown family, while others have wondered about the sometimes quizzical behavior of the many Brown children. Despite these rumors, the Brown gang has remained a consistent fixture of reality TV, offering a unique perspective in the TV genre, traditionally populated by the Kardashians and other stars who provide content focused on wealth and beauty. We can't imagine Kim Kardashian scaring off a bear from her Calabasas home. 

But it isn't all bears and woodland camps for this group. The Brown family has caused some major drama along the way and been attached to several scandals that rocked, at times, the stability of the show. So without further ado, let's look back at the biggest scandals to hit the "Alaskan Bush People."

The show isn't nearly as isolated as the family would make it seem

"Alaskan Bush People" follows the premise that the Brown family lives a rural life, removed from technology and city amenities. In fact, as Outsider puts it, the Brown family has made a living based on their ability to "survive off the grid in the wilderness." In the early seasons, they did this near Hoonah, Alaska and on their official Discovery website, the Brown family claimed that they had lived in the wild "for the last thirty years."

While this all makes for a compelling story, scandal hit the show when Radar reported some shocking information. Hoonah locals told the outlet that the Brown family was often seen coming and going from the Icy Strait Lodge. "All of the boys have their own rooms," the source told Radar. While this all sounds fairly normal, the issue many viewers took with this information is that the Brown family curated an image that they rough it in the wilderness and their digs in a hotel felt disingenuous. 

Anchorage Daily News adds another interesting element to the scandal of feigned remoteness. There is a pizza shop "about a half-mile away" from the Brown's allegedly rural land. While no one is surprised anymore that reality TV might not be as "real" as it would seem, the proximity to civilization certainly breaks down their facade of roughing it in the wild. So what does this have to do with their property "Browntown"? Keep reading.

Is Browntown just a prop?

Building on this scandal of feigned isolation, "Alaskan Bush People" faced more censure for their Alaskan property. Their compound, fondly called "Browntown," is one more potential facade in the Brown's curated image of being an anti-technology, rural family. With Radar breaking news that the Brown family allegedly opts for spending their time at a hotel nearby, a related scandal that surfaced was that "Browntown" was more of a prop than an actual permanent home for the family. As the outlet said, "Browntown" was simply "a front for filming."

But that's not all. The late Billy Brown, father of the Brown clan, claimed to have built "Browntown" with his "bare hands," according to In Touch. And while this is another touching detail in the growing narrative of the Brown's resilient, nature-loving personas, this might be an embellishment. Billy Williams, owner of Grizzly Pizza, told Anchorage Daily News that his wife saw a huge group of people join the Brown family on their Alaskan property to offer assistance in building their family cabin.

While scandals crop up around the Brown's Alaskan property, there are also plenty of scandals surrounding individual family members, particularly their behavior on social media. Let's find out.

Bear Brown faked his own death on social media

There's no shortage of social media scandals involving the Brown family and social media. On July 17, 2018, Bear Brown used Instagram to state that he had died. The cryptic post read: "R.I.P. 1987+2018 Loved son and devoted brother, he will be missed" as Radar reported.

Bear has since deleted the post but not before making fans really worried. In response to the feedback he received, Bear offered a follow-up explanation. "Hey everybody!! Sorry about the confusion death very serious," Bear wrote, (via In Touch). "It's definitely not a joke!! Those posts are from a project! I thought I made that clear!! I've been working on a homemade movie since my time in L.A.! Thank you for the concern!! And sorry for the misunderstanding!!"

Despite Bear's explanation, fans were still muddled by the posts. As Radar reports, someone commented, "Sweetie people can't read your mind...." At least he cleared it up, but this isn't the end of the Brown family's debacles on social media.

Gabe Brown's catfishing scandal

Bear Brown isn't the only one with a complicated relationship to social media. His brother, Gabe Brown, stirred up some confusion on Instagram in 2017, according to In Touch. The confusion actually began when his sister, Rain Brown, shared a video to Instagram and said: "There's this girl posing to be Gabe's girlfriend. I wanted to quickly [clear] some things up for you guys," via the outlet. As added explanation, Rain explained that Gabe didn't have his phone and hadn't had it for a while. "Please don't listen to anything that anyone says about him," Rain concluded.

Neither Gabe nor Rain offered any further explanation of the supposed catfishing scandal. Fans and commenters, however, leapt to two conclusions. 1.) Per Monsters and Critics, Rain's bizarre Instagram explanation came after a woman named "Betty" errantly outed herself as Gabe's girlfriend online, which led fans deride the woman as a "delusional" liar. 2.) Per In Touch, other fans somehow interpreted this whole situation as Gabe milking sympathy from fans who felt bad that not only was he dealing with the stress of his mother, Ami Brown's, lung cancer treatments, but he was also supposedly single while someone was fake online dating as him. But why would they think it was actually Gabe being shady? 

Well, on February 14, 2018, Rain returned to IG with a photo of herself with Gabe in the background, kissing Raquell Rose, who is now his wife, per In Touch. Rain added the caption: "Third wheelin' like a pro this V-Day." The fact that Gabe had an actual girlfriend while fans were sympathizing with him over a catfishing scandal made them feel like the Browns were "leading them on," per the outlet. 

Rain Brown gets slammed for posting selfies

It seems like the Browns just can't stop getting attention on social media. Stepping in for her brother, Gabe Brown, isn't the end of Rain Brown's scandals pertaining to Instagram. In 2017, she got slammed by fans for posting selfies. For a bit of context here, Rain's mother, Ami Brown, had been diagnosed with "stage 3B lung cancer" that year, according to Inquisitr. The diagnosis forced many members of the Brown family to head to California while Ami underwent treatment at the UCLA Medical Center.

During this period, Rain posted several selfies, one of which looked like it was taken at a medical facility. Rain had obviously gotten some flack from people because her caption read as a bit defensive: "[Y]ou gotta love yourself, kids, no matter who [tries] to push you down, you wouldn't believe the people I have had trying to make me mad and a bad person but I just throw love [their] way."

The issue, as In Touch notes, was that some folks felt that the selfies were too self-indulgent, considering what her mother was going through. However, several other fans jumped in to defend Rain, with one person saying: "Don't let the haters tear you down!!" Another person added, "I think there is nothing wrong with Rain [making] selfies. My Lord people, the young girl is going through enough!!" This seemed to be the winning attitude and it makes sense. Inquisitr notes that she was only 14 at the time, so she seemed to deserve a little slack.

Some of the girlfriends on the show are actually hired actors

Despite their alleged removal from civilization, the Brown children did quite a bit of dating throughout the seasons of "Alaskan Bush People." While this is all well and good, one situation involving Noah Brown made viewers question the authenticity of the show once again.

During Season 4, Noah wooed a young woman whom he claimed to have met while he was away from Alaska. The brunette woman joined Noah on the episode as he followed his wilderness routines and it was the Channel Guide to first point out that Noah's potential romance was actually a working actor named Karryna Kauffman. According to her IMDb credits, Karryna starred in some short films, including "Love in the Time of Flannel" and "The Song of Birds & Bees." She also worked as an extra in "16-Love." Added to these credits, Karryna was a contestant in the 2012 Miss California pageant, according to the Channel Guide.

The reason fans found the situation to feel disingenuous, as Parade points out, is that during the episode, Noah gave the impression that his connection with Karryna was serendipitous and that the whole thing was unplanned. However, Noah's short-lived romance "sparked outrage amongst viewers who speculated that Discovery had hired Kauffman to appear on the show."

The on-again, off-again drama between Bear Brown and Raiven Adams

When it comes to girlfriends, "Alaskan Bush People" faced an ongoing scandal thanks to the relationship between Bear Brown and Raiven Adams. The pair met in 2018 when Raiven arrived at Noah Brown's wedding, to help her mother, Kassy Michelle, who was working at the event as the photographer, according to People (for the record, Noah did not marry the hired girlfriend but rather a woman named Rhain Alisha, per The Sun). 

Bear and Raiven hit it off and both parties publicly gushed about the new relationship. Bear told People what he liked about his new girlfriend. "She is truly the full package," he said. "She is like, beauty in every sense of the word, inside and out. And she is the most awesome and extreme woman I've ever met! I adore her, honestly." Meanwhile, Raiven told the outlet, "The thing I like most about Bear is his ability to love unconditionally and how he lives his life to ensure other people's happiness."

The couple got engaged in August 2019, per a later publication by People. However, two weeks later, they announced their separation. One day after this, they announced that Raiven was pregnant. This was followed by them reconnecting and splitting up until Raiven filed a restraining order against Bear, per The Blast. In it, she claimed that he was verbally abusive towards her and would prohibit her from leaving certain rooms.

Raiven accuses Bear of threatening her

In Raiven Adams' restraining order against Bear Brown, she claimed that the "Alaskan Bush People" star was behaving erratically because of a cocaine addiction, according to The Blast. Raiven claimed that when she called Bear out on this, he would threaten to kick her out, a compromising situation since she had moved to Loomis, Washington, to be with him.

On the domestic violence protective order, Raiven also claimed that Bear would bring his guns out while around her in a manner that she perceived to be threatening. "He would use it as an intimidation / tell me gun laws don't apply to him," The Blast reports. Raiven added other details, such as claiming that Bear deliberately left propane on in their home. "I fell asleep on two occasions shorty [sic] before seperating [sic] permanently," she wrote. "Both times I woke up to propane left on in our trailer. When I expressed my concerns he laughed as if was a joke." In the report, Raiven stressed that her concern also had to do with their child, who was expected shortly. "Our child due in April will need protection from violent behavior / source of control / putting the baby in [harm's] way."

Their son, River, was born in March and the couple did end up reconciling and getting back together, as The Sun reports, but following the death of Bear's father, Billy Brown, the couple split again. However, Raiven wasn't done talking about the Brown family.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Raiven claimed that the show is fake and no one actually gets along

Raiven Adams had a lot to say about the Brown family. To be fair, she made a statement about them during one of her splits from Bear Brown in August 2020, according to The Sun, but what she had to say wasn't pretty.

Raiven's statement only amplified a common theme in scandals aimed at the Brown family, namely that "Alaskan Bush People" isn't what it seems and as such, she stressed that she doesn't want her son, River, to be a part of it in the future. "None of it is real," Raiven began, according to The Sun. "About 10 percent of it is real. My son is not going down with the show. This show is not real." Of the many siblings in the Brown family, Raiven alleged that the majority of them don't feel close in real life, save a few. "None of the siblings get along. The only siblings that get along are Bird and Rain," she said.

Raiven then added to the ongoing claim reported by Radar that the family doesn't live in the wild. "When I was there, the only person who lived on the mountain was Rain and Bird, and they were living in trailers. They left half way of me living there and moved into an apartment," Raiven told The Sun. Interestingly, this claim of falseness on the show was actually amplified by one of the Browns themselves.

Matt Brown claims the show is fake and that dad Billy Brown took all the money

Matt Brown actually left "Alaskan Bush People" in 2019, according to PopCulture, but that didn't stop him from sharing a video on Instagram in April 2021 alleging that his family's show was fake and that his late father, Billy Brown, funneled the revenue from the show away from the rest of the family.

As The Sun notes, the show was inspired by Billy Brown's book, where he said that the family lived without any modern equipment and used candles instead of electricity. When producers approached Billy with an idea for the show, they asked that this lifestyle be replicated but, as Matt alleged, the family didn't really live that way anymore. "I loved filming the show, but I didn't like lying about the way I live and the way things are in life," Matt said on Instagram. "We made a lot of money off the show, and because my dad controlled everything, all the money went to him ... I didn't have any money or anything. My dad kept that all."

Matt has also been candid on social media about his journey with addiction and sobriety, so while representatives for the show didn't comment on Matt's shocking claims, his brother, Noah Brown, did speak out. On Instagram, he said that an addict's behavior is "erratic." Noah added: "When you pair Addiction with mental illness like paranoid schizophrenia it makes things not only significantly worse and more extreme but also [dangerous]." 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Matt Brown was accused of raping two women

One of the biggest scandals to ever hit "Alaskan Bush People" involved Matt Brown. Two women who were involved in the show, one as a manager and one who worked in production, said that in 2018, Matt raped them, according to The Sun. They came forward to the outlet with their stories and identified themselves, claiming that they reported what happened to the Los Angeles Police Department's Topanga Division which was then handed on to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The Discovery Channel was also notified of the accusations and gave the following response to People: "Discovery Channel was approached several years ago regarding the allegations, finding them disturbing and very serious." They added that the accusations should be dealt with by the authorities.

However, the DA chose not to prosecute. According to The Sun, the LAPD responded with the following: "Both cases were investigated in 2018 and presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, who declined to prosecute."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Billy and Joshua Brown hit with falsification charges

Another major scandal to hit "Alaskan Bush People" involved the late Billy Brown and son, Joshua Brown. In 2016, an Alaskan judge sentenced the father and son "to serve 30 days in jail for Permanent Fund Dividend fraud," according to the Juneau Empire.

Billy and Joshua pled guilty to "unsworn falsification in the second degree" for claiming that they lived in Alaska from 2010-2013 when they were, in fact, not living in the state. During this time, they continued to fill out the application forms which made Alaskan residents entitled to oil money. Billy was also filling in the applications for three of his other children, who were minors at the time.

As CNN notes, Alaskan residents must live in the state all year in order to be eligible for their cut of the oil revenue. The outlet also notes that four other members of the Brown family were charged without stating their names. So, what sentencing did Billy and Joshua face for these falsification charges?

Billy and Joshua Brown's consequences for falsification

Billy and Joshua Brown pled guilty to fraud charges in January 2016. They were sentenced to "30 days in jail ... [and] pleaded guilty to one reduced, consolidated count of unsworn falsification in the second degree," the Juneau Empire reported.

Part of their sentencing included financial restitution and as CNN notes, they claimed over $20,000 from the Alaskan state's oil funds from 2009-2012, years when they were not, in fact, living there. While the charges became a major headline for the "Alaskan Bush People" family, the outlet also notes that the falsification of records occurred before they ever started filming the show, interestingly enough (as a reminder, the show began filming in 2014).

But what did Billy give as an excuse for the guilty sentence? "Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel, I didn't keep good track of our movements," he said in a statement. "I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements." 

"We are committed to living in Alaska for the long term and we respect the state's rules," Billy added. "I thought it best to settle to put this behind us." The family did settle the situation but it continued to create waves in media headlines for years to come. 

Will the show continue after patriarch Billy Brown died?

Far from a scandal, tragedy hit the Brown family when Billy Brown died in February 2021, per Outsider. Billy died at the age of 68, according to People, after suffering a seizure. His daughter Snowbird described the loss: "Life now is unlike anything we've faced before. We'll never give up our fight for total freedom, but can we do it without Dad?"

By the time of his passing, "Alaskan Bush People" had been on the air for 12 seasons and had 90 episodes under its belt, so it obviously had become an entity of its own. Nevertheless, the loss of the Brown patriarch made fans wonder if a new season was out of the question. Billy was, in so many ways, the glue that held the family together.

However, the family decided to continue with the show with a dedication to their father and husband, according to Discovery. If there's one thing we can say about the Brown family, they certainly are able to ride the waves of scandal and controversy, whether it's the Alaskan wilderness or the wastelands of reality TV and everything that comes with it.