Names From America’s Last Frontier

The Alaskan Flag

The Alaskan Flag

Jewel, the Folk/pop/country singer, may have a name that seems a bit earthy-crunchy to some people, but her name isn’t off-the-wall by modern standards. To the public, a name like Jewel doesn’t seem any more original than other nature names like Summer and Skye.

This might be largely thanks to the singer. Many may forget that her name seemed unique when she first entered the public eye 20 years ago.

Jewel was one of those names that was never very common, but was surprisingly on the lower end of the popularity chart over a century ago. It peaked in the 200’s from 1898 to 1936 and then declined. By mid-century Jewel fell off the charts completely, leaving the U.S. top 1000.

If not for the famous namesake, the name may have drifted into obscurity, but Jewel did launch her name back into the public consciousness, and as the singer’s career took off in the 1990’s, her name found its way back to the popularity charts.

However, Jewel’s newfound notoriety wasn’t enough to push her name into the same mega-hit status as her songs. As a baby name, Jewel only made the top 200 once—not in the 1990’s—but, back in 1904. The highest the name ranked in the 1990s was at #557 in 1999. The name is still in the top 1000, however, and in 2012 was at #809.

Now that Jewel’s homesteading family in Alaska has their own reality show, the names of her family members, some of which may seem more unusual than Jewel’s, have gotten some publicity.

The singer’s life seems almost mythic with stories about her growing up in Alaska in a cabin without any plumbing. This lifestyle is the focus of the Discovery Channel reality show, Alaska: The Last Frontier.

Jewel’s family continues to live a counterculture lifestyle and they share counterculture names. The main characters are Jewel’s father, the family patriarch, Atz Kilcher, his son Atz Lee, Atz Senior’s brother Otto and his son Eivin (sounds like Ivan).

But names of the main characters aren’t my favorites from the show. Although I admit to having a soft-spot for Otto, the name’s not new to me. Otto is on UBN’s Watch List Report, which you can download here.

Here are the names I feel have promise.

Etienne – is absolutely lovely. He is the 9 year-old son of Atz Lee and his wife Jane. While this name (pronounced ay-TYEN) has a lovely rhythm and sounds nothing like popular U.S. boy names, it has familiar roots. You see, Etienne is nothing more than the French form of mid-century favorite Steven.

Stellavera (Stella+Vera) – is Atz and Otto’s sister. Combo names are once again fashion-forward and Stella is heading into the top 50, at #62 in 2012. Vera is the less popular of the two, but at #500 is climbing quickly. With both names being stylish, why not combine them and double the style? The resulting Stellavera has a rhythm similar to mega-hit Isabella. This is one of my favorite combo names.

Sunrise – is perhaps a bit wacky and beats out Jewel in the hippy department, but there’s just something sweet and alluring about this name. This is another sister of Atz and Otto. I’m not sure I could bring myself to name my child Sunrise, but I like seeing it on someone else, even a middle-aged woman.

This family has lived in Alaska for four generations, starting with Yule Kilcher who set up a subsistence farm in Alaska when he fled Switzerland to escape the Nazis in 1936. Eventually Yule Kilcher became a delegate to the first Alaskan Constitutional Convention.

The Kilcher family is full of unconventional enterprising people with unconventional enterprising names.

Readers: Which Alaskan frontier name is your favorite?

Photo credit 

Comments

  1. I have loved the name Etienne FOREVER! Unfortunately my hubby does not.

  2. I had no idea the show even existed! Interesting.

    Really liking Stellavera.

  3. Why aren’t Atz Lee and Jane’s kids on the show? Where are they? They never talk about them.

    • Cecil Sayer says:

      Atz Lee and Jane act like they are ashamed of their kids. Why?

      • If you watch the show you will know that Atz Lee and Jane’s kids were on earlier shows. They are young children and they are very protective of them. They are also very proud of them. There have been people who have wandered up to the homestead houses uninvited. People have also put up addresses and gps coordinates to houses on different web sites. The Kilchers are just regular people living in a small Alaska town working hard to take care of their families and homes. There are no security details. There are however many round of ammo loaded into weapons expertly pointed at the interlopers I am most certain.

  4. Just wondering if Jane and Atz Lee have other children other than Etinne.

  5. My husband and I love the show and are planning a trip to Alaska someday. Everyone on the show is wonderfully inspiring!

  6. Deborah Aldhizer says:

    I love the show !

  7. lynda sue leroy says:

    I love the entire family they give us a show and we get to explore how they live and survive off the grid. As for their children they should be protective of them when they are old enough they will tell their parents they are ready for the exposure to be on the show I hope it last that long. I love Findley he is adorable and his parents take awesome care of him. Just love the whole concept of the family also am a big fan of Jewel.

  8. Im sorry I just have to comment regarding Diannes somewhat judgmental and jaded comment. Why on Earth would someone jump to a conclusion like “they act like they’re ashamed of their kids” just because they choose not to put their young children on a Televisions show? Do people stop to think that maybe just maybe they are doin the right thing, protecting their children from strangers that may see them as an opportunity to cause harm? That scenario is far more likely than a parent being ashamed of their children because they choose not to exploit them for a few bucks. What the hell is wrong with people like you? Jumping to ludicrous and potentially defaming conclusions about people you don’t know. These are the kind of women that spread mean and nasty rumors about other parents at their childrens school The kind of woman that feels better about themselves by hurting others. Disgusting. Why would someone want to be that negative and mean.

  9. Bertie Simmons says:

    My favorite reality show. The Kilcher Family has become my family, but I’m can’t begin to live like that. At 72, it’s a little late to BEGIN anything. Love that yall honored long time family friend, Findley, with a namesake. And Eiven and Eve sounds so nice together. I laugh out loud, sorry, when Atz Lee and Jane hunt together and he continues to tell her (ie) don’t shoot me. I understand why. It’s a very serious situation but it cracks me up. From you Texas fan, Bertie

  10. alisa lamb says:

    I love the show period. Otto and Charlette are such comics together. And Atz Lee and Jane are just a hoot when hunting together. The show with Jane spotting the bear on their beach when they were fishing was hilarious, with her anxiety going thru the roof and how Atz Lee responds is serious but so funny. And she sure is pro at the fishing. But, the show I hated was when Jane got her new rifle and it kicked her in the eye. Boy, that was scary. I love Eiven and Eve, and little Findley he is so adorable. I sure hope Shane and Kelli get their cabin up before the winter hits. It’s just a great show.

  11. Hello everyone @, ALASKA THE LAST FRONTIER ,
    LIKE ALL THOSE COMMENTS BEFORE ME YOUR ALL GREAT IN ALL THE POSITIONS YOU ALL FILL TO MAKE THE PROGRAM SUCH AN INTERESTING SUCCESS .THE STORY LINE ,THE INDIVIDUAL LIVES AND FAMILIES WITHIN THE ENTIRE KILCHER SETTLEMENT ,IT’S JUST SUCH A GREAT SHOW AND GREAT ENTERTAINMENT . THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR LIVES . YOUR ALL TRILY A SPECIAL BREED IN THE TIMES WE LIVE IN. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO LOVE LIFE AND EACH OTHER. LOOKI G FORWARD TO A NEW SEASON WITH NEW ADDITIONS TO THE FAMILY AND HEALING FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST . THANKS MUCH. YOU ALL PUT HOMER ON TH MAP.

  12. I just want to say that this is my favorite show since it began! I love the scenery, the out door lessons and of course all the great laughter! I’ve got every episode recorded and yes! I do enjoy watching all of the reruns!
    PS Best Wishes on a fast and complete recovery Atz Lee you look like you’ve definitely turned the corner!

  13. I love this show and would love to meet you guys. My dream is to visit Alaska one day and eat some deer meat and some of the fish, I see you guys catching. Will love to meet you.

  14. I love reality shows except when I discover they are not who they claim to be and less than honest. The families on Alaska final frontier is so pure and entertaining. While I enjoy watching Eve and Eiven’s family grow who could blame Jane and Otz Lee for wanting hide their family. (There are so many crazies out there). Otto and Charlotte are a hoot to watch and see heart warming to see their love for each other. I hope to continue to see these families as long as the crazies will leave them alone. (You know who you are). Stay strong Atz Lee – speedy recovery.

  15. Diana in Ohio says:

    I love the show can’t seem to get enough. Eve and Eivan my favorite on show, they all work so hard. Eve with her gardening an Eivan with so much knowledge of doing and making things, it blows my mind how handy he is. I would feel very secure in Alaska with him around. Glad that Atz Lee is doing great and starting to get around but I have to say I agreed with Jane when she got upset with him going out to the cabin in the back country.
    Jane and him are a hoot when they go hunting and Jane always making a yell or noise when hunting. My husband would shoot me if I made that much noise while hunting.
    LOVE. YOU ALL. Continue on.

  16. La'Faye Williams says:

    I LoVe this show…I live in S.C.we get cold weather..like 34 degrees and not for long…and when the nights R long and the daylight is short..I think that’s cold..they act like 20 below ain’t nothing…brrrr. That’s tuff..I would like to live like that here…lol..The southern summers R very hot and humited..I get good ideas from y’all..Thanks so much Love from the South…😀

  17. I want to hear the Gun & the Blade Head of the bay song by Atz Lee & Jane, all I have heard or seen was one brief clip on one episode. I played that brief clip over & over because I think that’s how good the song is & I would love to hear the song in its entirety! Sorry Jewell but Atz Lee & Jane The Gun & The Blade is what I want to hear! Please let me know if there is anyway I can see & or hear the song in its entirety. Id purchase a recording of the two of you in a minute!

  18. Teri Ogles says:

    My husband and I are true fans. We can’t wait for the show each week. We made our first trip to Alaska this summer and saw why you love it so much. Blessings!

  19. I love the show! All the people on the show are so real , I’m just curious about how many kids otts and Jane have? They never mention them on the show . I don’t blame them for wanting to keep them out! People can be nasty. But I do wonder about how many they have and are they home schooled? And how did otts and Jane meet?.

  20. Please watch all episodes you and can get you hands. It would do be worth it.

  21. I think Jane has every reason to protect her kids!!! Get over it 😏

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