Joel Jacko, his wife Jacqueline Jacko, and their daughter Anzlie Jacko have become popular faces after being featured on National Geographic’s unscripted series Life Below Zero: First Alaskans. The show explores the indigenous communities living in remote parts of Alaska and their struggles to survive the extreme subzero conditions.
Let’s take a closer look at this amazing family trio and get to know them better.
Introducing Joel Jacko – The Family Patriarch
Joel Jacko hails from the small village of Pedro Bay located on the northeastern tip of Iliamna Lake in Alaska. He was born and brought up in Chignik, Alaska and belongs to the Athabascan tribe.
The 45-year old Joel is the patriarch of the Jacko household. He takes care of his family and ensures their safety and survival in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.
Joel has years of experience and traditional knowledge passed down from his ancestors that helps him provide food, shelter and warmth for his loved ones.
Joel is a skilled hunter, fisherman and forager. He can hunt moose, caribou, rabbits and other small game near his home. He also knows the best fishing spots to catch salmon and other fish from the lake and rivers.
Foraging for berries, herbs, roots and other edible plants is another way Joel gathers food to stock his pantry.
Apart from procuring food, Joel also chops wood, maintains their boat, snowmachine and other important equipment. He has the ability to build shelter, smokehouse, cache and other vital infrastructure from the resources available around him.
With his traditional wisdom and survival skills, Joel Jacko represents the resilient spirit of the First Alaskans.
Meet Jacqueline Jacko – Joel Jacko’s Wife
Jacqueline Jacko is Joel’s beloved wife and partner in life. Originally hailing from Washington state, Jacqueline fell in love with Alaska and its raw, rugged beauty when she first visited it on a vacation.
But more than the landscape, it was Joel who truly captured her heart. She decided to permanently settle down with him in Pedro Bay and embraced the Alaskan way of life.
Now in her early 40s, Jacqueline has become accustomed to the daily challenges of living remotely in Alaska’s wilderness. She lends a helping hand to Joel in all outdoor activities like fishing, foraging, chopping firewood and smoking fish.
Within the home, Jacqueline takes care of the cooking, cleaning, tanning hides, sewing fur clothes and other domestic chores. She also homeschools their daughter Anzlie and teaches her their native language and cultural practices.
As a family, the Jackos try to live a 100% sustainable lifestyle by making the most of the natural resources around them. Jacqueline has adjusted remarkably well to this self-sufficient mode of survival.
With her caring nature and persevering spirit, Jacqueline provides emotional support and keeps the family bonded.
Little Anzlie Jacko – The Bundle of Joy
Five-year old Anzlie Jacko fills the Jacko home with love and laughter. She belongs to the Yup’ik tribe and was initially fostered by Joel and Jacqueline. The loving couple later decided to officially adopt her as their own daughter.
Young Anzlie is a bright and enthusiastic child. She is always excited to accompany her parents on their hunting, fishing and foraging trips. With the guidance of her father, Anzlie is learning vital skills like paddling a boat, operating a snowmachine, lighting fires, carving wood etc.
At home, Anzlie loves listening to her mother’s stories, watching her cook tasty meals and learning about their family heritage. Anzlie’s parents ensure she maintains a strong connection with her Yup’ik culture and traditions.
The precious little girl is being raised to appreciate and respect nature. The Jackos involve Anzlie in all their sustainable living practices so that she can carry forward this legacy.
With her innocence and vitality, Anzlie brings immense joy and purpose to her parents’ lives. She represents the future generations of First Alaskans who will keep their ancestral traditions alive.
Are Joel Jacko and Jacqueline Jacko Still Together?
Yes, Joel and Jacqueline Jacko are still happily married. The couple continues to live together in Pedro Bay, Alaska along with their adopted daughter Anzlie. They are featured on the show Life Below Zero: First Alaskans which documents their remote lifestyle and strong family bond.
Despite the harsh living conditions, Joel and Jacqueline’s commitment to each other and their ancestral traditions remains unshaken. Their marriage is a testament to the resilient spirit of the First Alaskan families.
Challenges Faced by the Jacko Family
Staying alive through the long harsh winters is the biggest challenge faced by the Jackos. As temperatures can drop below -50°F, the tasks of getting food, water and firewood become extremely difficult. Joel has to cut thick river ice to fetch water for daily use. He also relies on his snowmachine to reach hunting areas and transport wood.
Preserving food is also critical without refrigeration facilities. The family diligently smoke, dry or freeze their hunted meat, fish and foraged berries to store them for months. Keeping their boat, snowmachine and other equipment in good condition is also a constant requirement.
With no electricity or running water, daily chores like cooking, cleaning and bathing also become laborious. The Jackos have adapted by using oil lamps, a wood stove and melting ice for water. But it still requires tremendous effort.
Isolation is another major issue faced by the family. Pedro Bay has a tiny population of only 42 people. This means the Jackos have very limited social interaction or external help. They can only rely on each other.
Despite these conditions, the resilient family does not give up hope. Their deep love and community spirit keeps them going.
Highlights from the Jacko Family’s Life on Life Below Zero: First Alaskans
The new season of Life Below Zero: First Alaskans provides a rare glimpse into the Jacko family’s daily life and their struggles existing in the Alaskan bush. Here are some highlights:
- Shows Joel patiently teaching young Anzlie survival skills like paddling, hunting techniques, reading tracks and trails etc. He is passing down generational knowledge that has ensured their people’s survival for centuries.
- Depicts Jacqueline gathering wild greens, berries and plants to create home remedies and traditional medicines for her family. Her extensive knowledge of local flora helps keep them healthy.
- Captures the joyful moments when the family gets a successful hunt or fishing trip, allowing them to stock up their food supply. Fresh meat and fish are treasured.
- Documents the laborious tasks like hauling water, chopping firewood and smoking fish. It reveals the relentless effort needed just to satisfy basic needs.
- Portrays poignant parent-child moments between Joel, Jacqueline and Anzlie that underline the deep family bond they share.
- Showcases the stunning Alaskan panoramas around Pedro Bay like the icy river, dense forests and snowcapped mountains. It highlights the beauty amidst the brutality.
- Reveals how climate change is impacting the natural rhythms and traditional practices the family has relied upon for generations.
- Expresses the Jacko family’s hope that their ancestral wisdom and values will continue to be preserved for future descendants.
Through an intimate lens, Life Below Zero: First Alaskans honors the Jacko family’s courage and celebrates the Alaskan Native heritage.
Final Thoughts on the Jackos
Joel and Jacqueline Jacko exemplify the resilient spirit of the First Alaskans who have called this rugged landscape their home for millennia. The couple has created a loving home and sustainable life for their daughter Anzlie against all odds.
Their Caribou skin tents, fur clothes, fish caches and survival knowledge reflect the deep connection they share with their ancestry and environment. By passing down their wisdom to the next generation, the Jackos ensure their people’s traditions endure.
The tight-knit Jacko family proves that true contentment and riches lie not in material wealth but in the simple things – love, family, purpose and harmony with nature. Their lives may be challenging due to the extremity of their environment, but the Jackos face it with courage, compassion and an open heart.
They are the epitome of what family means in the Alaskan bush – a clan that sticks together through thick and thin to cherish each precious moment on this Earth.