‘Alaskan Bush People’: Family Uses Facebook Groups To Generate Sympathy, Scam Members

Alycia Ancell - Author

Jul. 12 2016, Updated 5:48 p.m. ET

Whether you’re a fan of Alaskan Bush People or not, if you’re a member of one of the numerous Facebook groups about Alaskan Bush People, you will more than likely be livid when you hear this news. Family members of Ami and Billy Brown used Facebook groups to draw sympathy for Ami’s mother’s trip to Alaska, and it also turns out they may have used members to help market the reunion.

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The last week of June, word started circling around social media about plans for Ami Brown’s 83-year-old mother to travel from Texas to Alaska, where she hoped to take part in a long overdue reunion with her daughter. According to Ami’s brother, Les Branson, the family has not heard from Ami in over 30 years.

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Branson talked directly to Radar Online and also shared a press release in Alaskan Bush People Facebook groups on the upcoming trip. In the press release, Branson shared that Ami’s great-nephew, Charles Gilbert, would be financing the entire trip and would be taking photographs and videos and sharing them on a special Facebook group titled “Memaw’s Trip to Alaska” as well as a YouTube channel by the same name. Both Branson and Gilbert were part of the many Facebooke groups dedicated to Alaskan Bush People.

While many of the Alaskan Bush People Facebook groups Branson shared this information in could not be categorized as “fan” groups, they still took pity on Ami’s mother, Earlene. According to Branson, reuniting with Ami was her last wish before she passed away, and many of the Facebook groups made a great effort to ensure the reunion happened between Ami and Earlene.

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“After suffering a stroke in 2012 and more recently being diagnosed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Earlene ‘Memaw’ Branson has not been able to contact her daughter by phone. So she’s packing up and headed to Alaska to try to find her. Her one wish is to see her daughter before she dies, and she’s willing to travel 7000 miles round-trip from Texas to Alaska to try and make it happen. She is being escorted by her great nephew, entrepreneur Charles ‘Chuck’ Gilbert from Denver, who is also financing the trip to fulfill a birthday wish for his aging aunt.”

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When it became clear that the Alaskan Bush People stars had skipped town and were vacationing in Hawaii during the exact time of Earlene’s visit, an Alaskan local, who was part of the Alaskan Bush People Facebook groups, threw a special barbecue for Ami’s mother. The people of Alaska wanted Earlene to know that even though her daughter didn’t want to see her, they didn’t feel the same way.

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Soon after Earlene had left Alaska and was assumed to be headed back home to Texas, strange things started happening in the Alaskan Bush People Facebook groups. First, Gilbert made a post stating he needed to hypothetically know the quickest way to get from Maui back to Juneau. This statement was odd, as the Browns were vacationing in Maui, and based on posts made by Branson and Gilbert, everyone believed Gilbert and Earlene had been in Alaska the entire time, not Maui. The post made by Gilbert was soon deleted.

Next, all posts, including the few photos of Earlene’s time in Alaska, from Branson and Gilbert dated up to a year back were deleted from all groups and Branson and Gilbert removed themselves from all of the Facebook groups.

Irritated, angry, and feeling used, one Facebook group admin went searching and found something no one expected to find. The admin stumbled across an Alaskan Bush People VIP Only Facebook group. Some of the members listed in the group included Branson (Les Branson), Gilbert (Selrach Treblig), and Twila (TK Wilson), Billy’s daughter from his first marriage. Surprisingly, Twila was also an admin of this VIP only group. The other admin, Barbie Phillips, is the Manager of Icy Strait Lodge, the motel the Brown’s are rumored to live at when they aren’t filming in “Browntown.”


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