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.


  1. kickshaw able
    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.

    April 19, 2014, 2:12 pm


  4. Toni Smith
    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

    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.

  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
    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
    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
    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
    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.

    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
    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

    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    January 7, 2016, 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, 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, 2016, 8:49 pm

    The tattoo is most likely ritualistic of her tribe’s people and could signify an entry into womanhood. See here:

  29. Mike lynch
    Glendale ca
    April 21, 2016, 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
    April 25, 2016, 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, 2016, 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
    June 9, 2016, 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
    June 16, 2016, 10:13 pm

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

  34. Ii
    June 16, 2016, 10:14 pm

    What does her tattoo mean, I really admire her.

  35. Quinton Steyn
    cape town, south africa
    July 8, 2016, 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, 2016, 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!

  37. Ed V.
    United States
    November 23, 2016, 10:43 pm

    Kickshaw sounds like just another spoon fed sheltered liberal, who wouldn’t know the first thing about working for what you get in life….actually earning your way in the world….in case you don’t notice, those girls NEVER complain….know why? They’re brought up with an excellent work ethic. They WANT TO LEARN the ways of their ancestors. Go back to your blankey and footie pajamas and turn the channel to the Smurfs dude… that’s the world you belong in.

  38. Sean
    November 29, 2016, 5:02 am

    What an awesome show. Have to agree 110% Agnes is a awesome woman and chip does seem to play the role of maintainer and repairer which with all the needed amenities to live in that environment. It probably is one hell of a task to maintain all that equipment in that environment. Ie: sleds, boats, snow machines, fish nets. I can definitely understand how that works. It doesn’t appear to be many repair shops or readily available stores to purchase the necessities required for that lifestyle. And what an great family that does almost everything together. And manage to support the local elders. They deserve every dime Nat Geo pays them for allowing us to share in their lives.

  39. Ozark82
    March 2, 12:31 pm

    Child abuse?! Not hardly! I am glad I was raised to know how to hunt, fish, find my way following the stars, make a fire from scratch, and many other traits that my father taught us. I love watching the Hailstone family. It is so refreshing to see children learning as I did and not sitting around playing video games, and having everything handed to them.

  40. glen74
    March 6, 5:40 pm

    Women’s Facial and Body Tattoos
    Arctic women’s facial chin stripe tattoosThere seems to have been no widely distributed tattoo design among Eskimo women, although chin stripes (tamlughun) were commonly found than any other. Chin stripes served multiple purposes in social contexts. Most notably, they were tattooed on the chin as part of the ritual of social maturity, a signal to men that a woman had reached puberty. Chin stripes also served to protect women during enemy raids.

    Arctic women’s facial chin stripe tattoosThe chin stripe was important to Diomede Islands living in Bering Strait. Ideally, thin lines tattooed onto the chin were valuable indicators for choosing a wife. A full set of lines was a statement of the woman’s ability to endure great pain but also an attestation to a woman’s powers of “animal” attraction. In the St. Lawrence and Chaplino Yupik area of the early 20th century, women painted and tattooed their faces in ritual ceremonies in order to imitate, venerate, honor, and/or attract those animals that “will bring good fortune” to the family.

  41. glen74
    March 6, 5:48 pm

    quality programme.. being a survival instructor myself i enjoy that nat geo has produced a LBZ showing the people of the world who are completely urbanized how other cultures get by and also to show the difficulties of this type of lifestyle. Agnes adn CHip are doing a great job (duty) to the elders who took care of them and also to teach their children the same ways when they are not in school .. the ignorant comments from kicksaw have blatently been made because has not watched crucial episodes which would have informed him about the hailstones and laws about hunting etc.

  42. Sneaker100
    March 23, 11:43 pm

    @kickshaw able
    Fist of all levels you have no clue…they have to hunt to eat you can go to work and then shop with the money you make they have no jobs or work north of 60. Trapping and hunting and the only way for them to live.
    Child Abuse? What child abuse they are teaching the kids how to live like they have for hundreds of years….you are a typical white city slicker who has no understanding of native survival and no common knowledge of arctic life.

  43. Snowwhite
    April 9, 7:22 am

    Kickshaw able- you may want to check your facts before you start spouting off about this family. Chip Hailstone had a small run-in with the law and is unable to use present-day firearms for a certain amount of time, so Agnes has to do the shooting with current day guns. If you have ever watched them cook their counters are clean the stove is clean there is nothing wrong with how they’re living. You need to go up there and see the type of area they’re living in before you start spouting off about what is right and what is wrong and the health department needs to run in. Their children are being taught by their mother her native traditions, which needs to be done because unfortunately Traditions are not passed down to Children anymore as much as they used to be and that is the reason why our country is in trouble and we have children killing children gangs carrying guns and drugs being sold out on the streets. If kids were brought up like they were back in the sixties and seventies we wouldn’t have this problem you might have a problem with a fistfight or two and some name-calling and some rumors but you wouldn’t have a gunfight and drive-by shootings. Children from that time had manners and it was yes ma’am yes sir and they did what they were told not F you Mom F you Dad and walk out and not come back to 3 in the morning that is wrong that’s where the partment of Social Services needs to be called in not the health department . What I think they’re doing is wonderful and I’m proud of them for teaching their daughters how to fend for themselves and not have to rely on a man. My father taught me how to take care of myself so if my husband and I ever split up I can take care of anything that comes up I don’t need him for anything. So you may want to do a little reading and a little more watching before you start making comments about how wrong they’re doing their children.

  44. Daniel Redskye
    Navajo Nation
    April 12, 7:14 pm

    Agnes is not fake. She is in my personal experience typical of a very tradition oriented native woman. There is the American Indian/Alaskan Native who is traditional and there are those who can barely speak the language. The traditional types are reserved, conservative and rather competitive, but protective by nature. Most may not win the miss universe pageant, but the trade-off is that these are very strong capable women, highly devoted to their families, and consider hard work second nature, like butchering game, my wife will shove me aside and get to it! No Agnes is not fake! And despite the difference in environment, Agnes reminded me so much of the qualities of my own wife I had to let my wife watch her and kindly smile.

  45. David Molon labe
    T1R5 Maine woods
    April 13, 9:23 am

    Kickshaw, Just like all the other people said above, you are a douche! Agnes Hailstones skills as an inupaq is awesome! Now that’s a wife bub! She could pop out a human, stand up and kick my ass and kill a caribou before I woke back up! I bet she chewed through her kids umbilical cords with blood running down her chin! She really is an amazing person. Great mother! And as far as chip goes, he’s non native! He can’t do a lot of the things his wife and kids can do! I also believe he’s a felon. We all have made mistakes. He’s a great dad that spends more time with his kids than any other dad I know! Including me! So thanks for making this comment section worth reading and commenting!

  46. Ina Red Horse
    South Dakota
    April 23, 2:06 am

    Wow. I have nothing nice to say about the Hailstones. When I first saw the show I was thrilled to see native life portrayed. That was soon replaced by embarrassed horror. Their part of the show is nothing but a blood bath. they show all the other participants doing many other things besides hunting. Not our Agnes and chip all they do is kill any and everything they lock their eyes on. Sue and Glen are way more in line with a true native spirit. You do not see them taking more than they need. We see Sue personally thank each animal she hunts and I don’t think you will ever see the Hailstones have foxes playing with them outside their homes. They just seem so very fake to me. Their daughters are way too old to just be learning to hunt now. Come on, one is 21 years old. She should be bringing up her own house not still learning to hunt. And as far as Agnes goes, she is the only native woman I have ever seen who literally screams like a maniac every time she spots something or shoots something. It has become too much to watch their segments. The fact that they steal eggs from nesting birds and chase down ducks what can’t fly shows the hunting skills they possess. It’s embarrassing for any native to watch. I sincerely hope people do not think this is the way native people are. I will say that she does seem to have good skill with working the hides. I just do not buy that this is their normal way of life. I think they picked it up for the show. I have mentioned nothing of chip because he deserves no mentioning.

  47. Robert
    Tallahassee fl
    April 27, 6:10 pm

    What does tatoo on Agness face stand for

  48. ceal
    United States
    May 10, 12:54 pm

    I just started watching on netflix ,why anyone has anything negetive to say I don’t know .I love them all, so much credit for there hard work and living thier lives answering to noone but thier own conscience , God bless and much luck to you all

  49. Chas
    May 12, 5:30 pm

    Interesting to witness the combat between the intelligent and the red necks on here .BTW…the actual prog is pretty good 🙂