The Inupiaq Traditions of Life Below Zero’s Hailstone Clan

Resourcefulness is a way of life for Life Below Zero‘s Chip and Agnes Hailstone. The family’s lifestyle of survival and efficiency is informed by Agnes’ Inupiaq Eskimo heritage, which guides the Hailstones’ respect for nature’s resources and their love of their tundra home.

Native to Alaska, the Inupiaq people traditionally live subsistence lifestyles, hunting and gathering resources using traditional methods. Raising their seven children with few resources from the modern world, Chip and Agnes utilize traditional methods of gathering food and protecting their clan, making do with what nature provides them. “Subsistence is basically ‘do it yourself,'” Chip says. “When you’re subsistence fishing, you’re fishing for your own needs, your own food. You’re not buying it from a store, it wasn’t raised in a factory. This is the way to go.”

The Inupiaq live a nomadic lifestyle, and the Hailstones move seasonally to follow nature’s flow, chasing optimal weather, available materials and the best hunt. Chip and Agnes utilize every part of the animals they hunt, including skin, teeth and bones to make arts and crafts to sell. taking advantage of the rivers of fish and the herds of caribou that roam the tundra.

The Inupiaq also value reciprocity and sharing, as families will distribute their bounty with their neighbors. Not only do Agnes and Chip have to worry about caring for their seven children, but they also support elders in their isolated village, taking care of those who once cared for them. Chip and Agnes make sure to pass along their lessons in subsistence hunting to their children, teaching them the methods of living off the land so they can one day support families of their own.

For more from the Hailstone clan, check out the Life Below Zero interactive experience Zero Demands, which explores Chip and Agnes’ life of zero waste.

Catch the Season Two premiere of Life Below Zero on Thursday at 9P.

Comments

  1. kickshaw able
    indianapolis
    April 17, 2014, 9:21 pm

    The Hailstone clan is definitely the weakest link in the Life Below Zero show. Agnes seems so fake, is way too eager to prove her way and abilities in her quests, fishing, hunting, etc. Her husband seems to be a lightweight and hanging on to whatever her ancestry enables them to do. Their home life is terrible. I wonder if there is a Board of Health in Alaska that might be interested in how they live. I also think their lifestyle borders on child abuse I love the outdoors, I love all the hunting, fishing, living on the edge, etc. but these people just don’t ring true to me.

  2. Joan
    April 18, 2014, 9:56 am

    I enjoy watching the family and learning their traditions. However, what exactly is the function of Chip? His wife does all the work, all the time. She and her daughters clean and butcher whatever they catch. She then cooks the meal. Chips role seems to be narrator for the camera.

  3. MICHAEL SCULL
    PENNSVILLE NEW JERSEY
    April 19, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I THINK THAT ITS COOL THAT A FAMILY CAN SURVIVE IN ALASKA AND I SEE THE WORK THAT IT TAKES TO LIVE THERE I HUNT AND FISH ALL MY LIFE I WOULD LOVE TO VISIT THERE AND CHIP YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILE MY COMPLAMENTS YOU ARE A GOOD MAN AND I AM AMAZED HOW WELL YOUR WOMAN CAN SHOOT THAT RIFEL WITHOUT A SIGHT CHIP YOU ARE A LUCKY MAN TO HAVE SUCH A WOMAN THANKS FOR THE TV PROGRAM MICHAEL SCULL HOPOE THAT GOD GIVES YOU AND YOUR FAMALY WELL BLESSINGS

  4. Toni Smith
    Illinois
    May 7, 2014, 1:13 pm

    Agnes and Chip are our favorites on Life Below Zero. We especially love Agnes. She is such a cheerful, positive little thing and we think they are lovely parents. Just because they have their children work along side them, that does not make them poor parents. They are better than many of todays parents, too busy to spend time with their children, raising spoiled kids who have everything, and can’t do anything for themselves.

  5. jennifer marek
    campbellsport Wisconsin
    May 29, 2014, 8:15 pm

    Wow!!
    kickshaw able from Indianopolis….Thank you for sharing with
    everyone that you’ve been spoon fed your whole life.
    What Agnes Hailstone offers and teaches her children is invaluable survival to the ways of the Inupiaq life.
    Read a book or google it before making a fool of yourself.
    jgwen

  6. Darrell Arnold
    La Veta, Colorado
    May 31, 2014, 8:33 am

    Kickshaw in Indianapolis is an idiot. The Hailstones, and especially Agnes, are the heart and soul of Life Below Zero. I learn so much watching them live their lives.

  7. Jeff Love
    Fort Walton Beach, FL
    June 1, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Agnes fake?. There is no way to fake taking down an animal at several hundred yards with iron sights as Agnes has done on camera. Maybe some people can’t understand how Agnes always seems to be happy given all the labor that she performs but it is obvious that it is all second nature to her. She’s the “real deal” to the extent that she can’t help but “show up” her husband on occasion but at least he knows when to get out of her way. Chip seems like a competent guy to me but Agnes is a force of nature.

  8. j
    md
    June 1, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Chip your family is what family should be before anything. If we could all teach our kids this way before sending them out into the world. Good luck brother.

  9. j
    md
    June 1, 2014, 6:02 pm

    And kickshaw is hardly able. I bet one of the hailstones kids would outlast you in more than just a starring contest. Not sure you have even set foot in AK.?

  10. m. spratt
    Auburn, Indiana
    June 1, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Jennifer, fear not. Not all Hoosiers are as ignorant as kickshaw. I think the Hailstones are doing it right!! Those children arent afraid of work and are absolutely thrilled at getting a SUCKER, for a treat. Not spoiled because they didn’t get an Ipod, or some other technical device!! A lot of people could learn from Agnes and Chip. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to have a wife like Agnes!!

  11. Mark Loja
    USA
    July 5, 2014, 3:46 pm

    kickshaw able – There’s a reason we no longer live the way the Hailstones do. You’d have slipped beneath the waves long before you were relevant. Like today for instance…
    LBZ rocks, dig the entire cast, though Sue’s got to lighten up. We get it, you had your head in a bears mouth. That sucks, big time. You’re armed to the teeth, you won’t let this happen again if you can help. I know, we’re all one mistake away from death, but for crying out loud, cheer up, you’ve survived. What a story to tell your family and friends. Now git on that snow machine and ride sister, ride!!! Go Hailstones!!!

  12. Buck Owen
    Kotzebue
    July 24, 2014, 5:20 pm

    I know the whole family. Its obvious that Agnes is the focus of the segments, she has alot to offer, and is a very talented artist, but I know Chip does the cooking Hhahahah! Chip is also very proud to have his family on there, and if you know how quiet Agnes really is, then you will know why Chip does the talking. Also Chip reported an Alaska State Troopers assault on his daughter and had it turned around on him when the Troopers tamperd with the evidence. He was made a felon but at his sentanceing he presented scientific proof that he was innocent and that the tapes used to convivt him were tampered with.The Judge let him out untill retrial, and he is still waiting for that after 2 years.It happend right when the show was being started, but Agnes know Chip didnt lie and she has stepped up to do what she can while he fights this in court, so I think she is an even better wife than you will ever know, and I think thats cool. http://www.thearcticsounder.com/article/1249noorviks_hailstone_sentenced_seeks_appeal

    Chip also drives his boat inthe Ocean, rivers and lakes, and it takes skills to take a small boat all over in our crazy waters, and he drives the snowmachine, a brutal workout for anyone, rather like riding a dirt bike everywhere, no roads and at zero degrees too, did anyone notice that they burn firewood? Chipis constantly getting the heat, something of a job here in the Arctic with our stunted trees and needs for 24 hour heat. Thats no small feat on a daily basis………yes, Agnes is great, Chips is lucky, but rememeber he’s no glory hog and that man is very happy to have his wife and kids on TV, I I think my cuz represents Inupiaq very well. Hi Hailstones!, if you read this stuff 😀

  13. Terri Remenius
    Colorado mountains 9000ft
    August 11, 2014, 9:20 pm

    I totally admire the Hailstones in everything they do!! What I want to know is what is the name brand of her Ulu, as I am shopping for one now because I too am a hunter, and have fallen in love with her knife as she uses it for everything. Is there some way I can send her a personal message?

  14. sharon santhuff
    mississippi
    September 25, 2014, 3:15 pm

    What does Agnes tattoo stand for?

  15. Kery
    November 7, 2014, 1:30 pm

    I think the sheer amount of knowledge and work this family puts in is amazing, but I was very disappointed to see what an irresponsible hunt they did on the caribou hunt, injuring one of them and letting it go without tracking it to finish the job, because Agnes dropped 1 doesn’t mean they didn’t have to end the other’s life. Randomly shooting into the herd and not putting down the injured one’s isn’t a good hunter

  16. THE SHOT CALLER
    Newport BEach ca
    November 28, 2014, 2:11 am

    absolutely love this family you are my favorite TV stars the enthusiasm your daughters have and you what an incredible loving family I am grateful to be able to watch you live it and love it

    Thankyou life below Zero love this show especially the man with the 5 daughters working together as a team WOW I hope you read this post

  17. cj
    appleton,wi
    December 6, 2014, 8:59 pm

    hey chip, you are not the only guy who needs to plan ahead. us fellows who live in the civilized world need to plan ahead just the same as you. if we dont, our life will become a mess. same as yours. subsistence living is very different than what we do, but everyone needs to plan ahead in order to survive. not just you. come up with a different catch phrase please.

  18. paul
    southern calif
    December 11, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Did you ever think that Chip is not native, and it may well be that he is not allowed by law to take many of the animals shown. The native culture has men’s and women’s chores. The last generation has changed things somewhat, men do some commercial work and it is up to the women to keep the culture alive. Keep it up, Agnes, you are a real prize and a true prepper.

  19. Terri
    December 18, 2014, 10:00 pm

    So no one asks how much they get paid per episode. It looks beautiful but may not help their economy. It’s such a soap opera. Reality shows are a production. Think about how much national geo gets for making games and such, no different than duck dynasty. Oh it’s not real?

  20. Nancyrose
    Pittsburgh pa
    May 1, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Does anyone know if Agnes sells her native art online??

  21. John
    Barrow
    May 3, 2015, 1:55 am

    I’m with you KICKSHAW. She seems like a good woman, but to make her out as a woman of the wild… well erm, she couldn’t even build a tipi!
    Stick to cooking and the odd hunting. ; ))

  22. Wendy
    Florida
    May 28, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Kickshaw is an idiot. Child abuse? Are you kidding me??? Since when did teaching your children to live off the land, respect nature, and utilize every part of the fish and game they hunt, become child abuse? Perhaps more people should “abuse” their children in such a manner…

  23. Annie
    Pickering, On
    September 13, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Love the woman Agnes is. So interesting to watch and learn about their lifestyle. I am concerned that I have seen bruising on Agness’s face a couple of times. I know it’s not from the recoil on the gun – she is a master with it.
    Hope the bruises stop appearing.

  24. Buck Owen
    Kotz
    September 30, 2015, 9:36 pm

    A lot of people that live here in Alaska can plainly see that Agnes gets frost nips on her face. It is very likely that she grew up here and dose not feel the skin as it freezes. These appear as brown patches on the skin. Personally, I get these from sunglasses, eyeglasses and ski goggles or places where the skin was exposed during very cold weather. She looks fine to me.

  25. Barbara Sine
    usa
    December 15, 2015, 9:37 pm

    Does all 7 children belong to Chip Hailstone? When they show the boy they always say Agnes’s son.

  26. Vicki Johnson
    United States
    December 26, 2015, 5:33 pm

    What does Agnes’ tattoo stand for?

  27. Becky n
    Wv
    January 7, 12:04 am

    I am from Indiana and ignorant close minded people like you are why we left the state 3 years ago, I think it’s awesome they are handing down their heritage to the kids,..it must bother the Indiana person that the kids don’t have their faces in their iPads and get texts from mom in the kitchen that dinner is ready…their store bought meat and cookies …if you have nothing good to say about the show, don’t watch!

  28. Allie
    February 1, 8:49 pm

    The tattoo is most likely ritualistic of her tribe’s people and could signify an entry into womanhood. See here: http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/tattoo_museum/arctic_alaskan_tattoos.html

  29. Mike lynch
    Glendale ca
    April 21, 2:54 pm

    The Hailstones are awesome I love watching how other people live and this is a tuff way to survive.I wonder is chip allowed to hunt as a native Alaskan without permits licenses stuff like that I think Agnes can hunt whatever whenever because she is Inupiak the kids also but chips a white boy so she does all the shooting and she’s good at it best of luck to the Hailstones

  30. Belinda
    Michigan
    April 25, 9:19 pm

    My entire extended family love this show. I am in MI and my family is in WV, and we find it special to know that although we are not together or even in same state, we are ALL enjoying the show at the same time. I believe it helps reveal how hard life in the true Alaskan way is lived. And I also wish my child and grandchildren knew what real work or chores were. Keep the show Alive and I’ll be a forever fan!

  31. Maddbane
    Chino Valley Az
    June 2, 8:23 pm

    Agnes is the only one that could hunt since she is the tribe. If you read an article about it you will learn the reason for her tattoos. She is bringing the old traditions. She is mainly the one that take care of some of the elders. She is not the village idiot.

  32. Me
    Peru
    June 9, 10:18 pm

    Most of your comments suck .always judgemental about others like not so free people do .its so typical that everyone breaks down the family dynamic to choose a side to entertain yourself .their family is together .is yours?

  33. Irene Iwanicki
    Canada
    June 16, 10:13 pm

    Does anyone know what her tattoo on her face means? I love watching them.

  34. Ii
    Canada
    June 16, 10:14 pm

    What does her tattoo mean, I really admire her.

  35. Quinton Steyn
    cape town, south africa
    July 8, 5:34 am

    I love the program live belowe zero, the family…beautifull. I fall in love with the Hailstone family since the start of proram. Those with their negative comments are the once who don’t understand the value of a close family…especially whene a family subsist from the land and families who value their cultures and traditions. As a South African person who this government still called me “coulered”…the Hailstone family are free and the maintain a moral lifestyle. I love the family.

  36. DM McCann
    Northern Ca.
    September 25, 4:45 pm

    I think the guy who disparaged the Hailstones way of life, & division if chores, is a mysogenstic, 50’s throwback. In modern times, whichever person in a couple has the inowledge & abilty, is the major breadwinner. (Woman fought for their independance from such restraints for many years). Obviously their lifestyle isn’t a common choice, but they spend more time with tteir children than 90% of most traditional families. Chip’s main contribution seems to be his ability to fix machinery, build structures, & maintain the things they need to enable efficency. Look how many women in the US now have the higher paying jobs, & the man in the family provide the domestic work & child care. It’s no easy way out, if you’ve ever done it! I don’t see anything that resembles child abuse in their family, (unless you consider abuse as not raising kids that spend all their time indoors, do few or no chores, are always online, & get cars for their 16th birthdays). There are different ways of raising a family, & I don’t see any signs of “abuse” there!