• Eivin and Eve Kilcher are reality TV personalities and simple living advocates known for the show “Alaska: The Last Frontier”.
• The Kilcher family are descended from Alaskan pioneers Yule and Ruth Kilcher, and are known for their self-sufficient lifestyle.
• Yule and Ruth raised 8 children on the family homestead, and Yule was an advocate for nature conservation.
• Jewel and Q'orianka Kilcher are famous members of the family, both known for their respective music and acting careers.
• In 2015, Atz Lee and his wife were charged with using a helicopter to hunt during the filming of “Alaska”; all charges were dismissed.
Who are Eivin and Eve Kilcher?
Eivin and Eve Kilcher are reality TV personalities and simple living advocates, known for their starring roles in “Alaska: The Last Frontier”. Eve was born in July 1984, and spends most of her time preparing for Alaska’s months-long winters, which is no small feat. Some of her tasks on the show include growing vegetables and raising her and Eivin’s children, Findlay and Sparrow Rose; meanwhile, Eivin takes care of the physical chores around the family homestead, and goes on risky hunting trips in the nearby wilderness.
Currently, the main Kilcher homestead is home to nine: Eivin and Eve, their children, Eivin’s three brothers, and his parents Charlotte and Otto. Although his unconventional lifestyle as a third-generation homesteader isn’t for everyone, Eve is a great fan of simple living, as she herself grew up surrounded by nature. During his formative years, Eivin lived with family members who taught him all the vital skills he needed to survive and thrive. He then built his own homestead to house himself, Eve, their children, and their beloved pet dog, Tonsai.
Eve’s interests include making cheese, foraging for food, spending time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes, and instilling in Findlay and Sparrow Rose the same love and respect she herself cultivated for the homestead lifestyle. Her successful cookbook, “Homestead Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Our Hearth to Yours”, is perfect for beginners and contains 85 original family recipes and advice on foraging, preserving and gardening.
Eivin is a dedicated father, husband and tenacious outdoorsman. The former firefighter knows just about everything, from making knives to welding; naturally, he’s also an expert fisherman and hunter-gatherer. Eivin hopes to inspire others to reduce their carbon footprint, and slowly lean away from mass-produced products and food.
These days, Eivin and Eve are keeping fans up to date with their latest projects via social media. Although they believe in living as simply as possible, the couple use their Instagram profiles to drum up publicity for their latest ventures. As of November 2022, Eve is selling personalized copies of her cookbook, and is possibly looking to branch out as an author and slowly move away from reality TV.
“Alaska: The Last Frontier”
“Alaska” is a Discovery Channel reality series that premiered in late December 2011, and follows the lives of the Kilcher clan, who are descended from the Alaskan pioneers Yule and Ruth Kilcher. The Kilcher family manage to make do without the many things that most take for granted, such as modern heating and other basic necessities, and just live off the land. The main cast members are Otto, Charlotte, Atz, Bonnie, Atz Lee, Jane, Eivin, Eve, and Shane; Jewel and other extended family members have made sporadic appearances.
The first season of “Alaska” lasted just three episodes, but was a roaring success; it showed the Kilcher family during their final hunting trip before the harsh winter. The trip was especially important, given that some of their cattle had been killed and eaten by bears. In the second episode of season one, the family frantically made the last preparations of the winter season; in the third episode, tensions reached an all-time high as a newborn calf and its mother disappeared, and a search party was organized.
“Alaska” returned with 15 new episodes in October 2012. In an action-packed season premiere, Otto and Atz battled against the elements and a lack of food to help out a fellow homesteader in a risky but noble aid mission. Having survived the grueling winter, the Kilchers milled lumber, went on spring hunting expeditions, and fished for king salmon.
The show was renewed for a minimum of three more seasons in September 2020. The show was most popular in 2014, when it was nominated for an Emmy Award in Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program and another in Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming. In 2013, “Alaska” also won the Communicator Awards’ Award of Distinction.
The Kilcher Family
The Kilcher family history is a rich one full of important historical figures, at least from a homesteading point of view. Julius Jacob Kilcher, the family patriarch, was born in Switzerland in March 1913, and moved to Alaska during his young adulthood. With time, he would adopt the name Yule Forenorth Kilcher, and permanently settled in Alaska after returning to his home country for a brief period of time in his mid-20s.
New work. Family portrait of the Kilcher family created for the latest season of Discovery's – Alaska: The Last Frontier. #Kilcher #Alaska #AlaskaTheLastFrontier #KeyArt #JackCGregory #JackGregory #Illustration pic.twitter.com/npIOT5Ncld
— Jack C. Gregory (@JackGregoryArt) November 22, 2022
Yule was a cultured man who studied archeology and comparative philology in Berlin, and claimed to have worked as a journalist in North Africa, Poland, and the US. During his long work journeys, Yule learned many skills that would come in handy later on, such as how to build a log house. At last, the Kilcher patriarch felt prepared to move to Alaska; his aim was to create an “idealistic” community with like-minded individuals.
In Alaska, Yule changed his name and was given 160 acres of land in the Kachemak Bay area near Homer. As mentioned, he made a brief return trip to Switzerland in 1939, and tried to persuade others to emigrate to Alaska. Two years later, he married an American citizen named Ruth Weber who was born in Pratteln. They raised eight children on the family homestead: Wurtilla, Fay, Catkin, Atz, Otto, Stellavera, Mossy, and Sunrise. As Yule believed in a self-sufficient and natural lifestyle, they had to survive without running water and electricity.
Yule produced the first documentaries on homesteading life, “A Pioneer Family in Alaska” and “The Last Frontier”. He spent three years between 1947 to 1958 travelling around Europe to showcase his documentaries, which were well-received due to their novelty factor. Other important achievements in his life include being elected to the Constitutional convention in representation of the Kenai Peninsula.
From 1963 to 1966, Yule also held the State Senate seat for the Democratic Party. He considered himself a “radical” member of the party, but advertised himself as a “man of the people”. Causes near to his heart included nature conservation; unsurprisingly, Yule participated in the first expedition from Homer to Seward, where he and others would cross the famous Harding Icefield.
Ruth and the children took care of things around the homestead whenever Yule travelled for work, but in 1969, the couple divorced, and Ruth wasted no time in relocating to Tennessee. After years of toiling on the homestead, Ruth delved into the creative industry, and became a writer, journalist and translator. She also remarried in an intimate wedding ceremony that was held in New Mexico. The cause of Ruth and Yule’s divorce is a mystery, but taking into account Ruth’s drastic lifestyle change, it’s safe to assume that she was disillusioned with homestead living, and wanted out.
As for Yule, he died of old age in December 1998. The Alaska governor at the time, Tony Knowles, ordered state flags to be flown at half-mast on the day of the pioneer’s funeral.
Second- and Third-Generation Kilchers
As mentioned, the Kilcher family tree is full of accomplished and famous individuals. For example, Yule’s son Atz is a renowned singer-songwriter, with impressive yodeling skills; Atz’s daughter, Jewel, is an accomplished musician, who was nominated for a Grammy Award, and has sold over 30 million albums around the globe since she joined the music industry in 1994.
Jewel was born in May 1974 in Payson, Utah, while her father was a student at Brigham Young University. She and her older brother Shane were raised in the Mormon faith, and attended the controversial Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until 1981, when her parents divorced. Instead of living with her mother, Jewel and her father relocated to the Kilcher homestead, which was miles away from town. Despite the lack of heating and running water, Jewel remembers her childhood years fondly.
However, Atz and Jewel had to earn a living somehow, and they began performing at local taverns and roadhouses to make things meet, when living off the land just wasn’t enough. They also sang at more prestigious locations, such as the Hilton Anchorage and the Hotel Captain Cook, which is when Atz taught Jewel how to yodel.
Now aged 15, Jewel was working at a local dance studio when she was referred to the Interlochen Arts Academy of Michigan by the studio instructor. After being awarded a partial scholarship to pursue an operatic voice degree, Jewel still needed $11,000 to pay for the rest of the first year’s tuition: luckily for her, local businesses raised the money she needed to make her dreams come true. While in Michigan, Jewel received classical training, honed her songwriting skills, and learned to play the guitar.
Once again, Jewel had to do live performances to get by. This time, she performed in coffeehouses and any venue that would accept her. After graduating, she moved to California and worked as a coffee shop waitress and phone operator, until in summer 1993, she was discovered and signed a lucrative deal with Atlantic Records. Some of her achievements to date include releasing 12 studio albums, forming the Higher Ground for Humanity non-profit organization which focuses on sustainable improvements and education, and winning not one but five San Diego Music Awards.
Jewel and her mother have a somewhat rocky relationship since 2003, when the musician accused the latter of stealing millions of dollars from her while acting as her business manager. Apparently, Jewel’s mother not only stole all her money; she also landed her daughter in debt. Jewel shared her side of the story in her memoirs, which were published in 2015, and were full of juicy details.
Other famous family members include the singer, activist and actress Q’orianka Kilcher, Jewell’s cousin and Yule’s great-granddaughter. Q’orianka was born in West Germany in February 1990 and moved to Hawaii with her mother Saskia just two years later; Saskia gave birth to her second child, Kainoa, in the state.
Q’orianka was greatly influenced by the vibrant culture of Hawaii during her childhood, and learned the hula dance when five years old. She also trained in West African, hip hop, Tahitian dancing and ballet, and won the Ballet Hawaii’s Young Choreographer Award at the age of seven. On two occasions, she was chosen to compete in San Diego’s annual Tahitian Dance Competition.
The future celebrity made history as the first child to study classical voice at the University of Hawaii, and would later study drama at the Diamond Head Theater. Q’orianka had humble career beginnings as an opening act for Hawaiian musicians including Willie K; in 1999, her family relocated to California, and she busked in Santa Monica for donations from tourists.
Moving to California was a risky decision on Saskia’s behalf, but it paid off for her daughter, who was cast in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Three years later, she studied vocal performance, music theory, and songwriting at Hollywood’s Musician Institute after obtaining a full scholarship. She also trained for a black belt in Wushu kung fu, and in stunt training at the famous National Wushu Training Center.
The highlight of Q’orianka’s career came in 2005, when she won a National Board of Review Award in the Best Breakthrough Performance category for her depiction of Pocahontas in “The New World”. The movie was critically acclaimed, and helped Q’orianka lay the foundations for a lengthy and fruitful career; some of her other works include playing Tiger Lily in “Neverland”, and Pinti in “Shouting Secrets”.
Not all the Kilcher family members are perfect, as in the summer of 2015, Atz Lee and his wife Cristina Jane were charged with using a helicopter to hunt during the filming of “Alaska”; using helicopter to hunt or spot prey is illegal in the state of Alaska, but the case was put on hold as Atz Lee suffered an injury in a hiking accident. All parties pleaded not guilty, and although the show’s production company had to cough up the $17,500 fine, all charges against the Kilchers were dismissed.