Since the inception of National Geographic channel's reality show American Colony: Meet the Hutterites, the world of the Hutterites has drawn much curiosity. The show, however, has been criticized as being contrived and not accurately depicting Hutterite beliefs and way of life. The Hutterites FAQ provided by the Hutterian Brethren offers some insight into the Hutterite colonies that often differs from what viewers see on the reality show.
What are the beliefs of the Hutterites?
According to the Hutterian Brethren, the Hutterites share many of the same beliefs as the Amish and Mennonites. There are various rules that each Hutterite lives by, but the principle beliefs are having adult (rather than infant) baptisms, pacifism and communal funding. These fundamental beliefs are often not relayed in the reality show, which features members hunting, disrespecting elders and drinking.
What is daily life like for a Hutterite?
Daily life in a Hutterite colony resembles the life of early American Colonists. Although the style of housing is more modern than a Colonist's cabin, the daily chores are much the same. Information provided by the Canada Agriculture Museum describes daily life comparable to that of North American living during the 19th century. Technology is primarily lacking in many colonies, however, electricity is used. Farm equipment is also vital to agricultural improvements, and such equipment has replaced the early 19th-century horse and plow.
Rather than spending a lazy afternoon watching game shows or music videos, Hutterite adults and children spend much of their time by performing various chores in the colony. A communal hall is used to serve meals to all members. The halls are often divided into separate areas, with adults eating in one area, while children dine in another. Men and women may also eat separately from each other during meals.
Clothing for the Hutterite members is not meant to make a fashion statement but rather to be functional. Females generally wear ankle-length dresses with an undershirt, plus a kerchief over the head. Males are often seen wearing standard shirts, plus dark caps or hats. Suspenders are preferred over belts.
Many of the items used by the Hutterites are made, raised or prepared right at the colony. Livestock is raised and butchered, agricultural products including fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested, and even soaps are made. Children help adults in day-to-day activities, where females often are in charge of cooking and cleaning, and males are outdoors tending to livestock and the land.
How is money dispersed in a Hutterite community?
Any money earned by a community member belongs to the entire community. The Hutterian Brethren Web site explains that if members need different items, they ask for it. If it is a necessary item, it is bought for them. Colony members and families are provided a monthly allowance for personal expenditures; the amount varies depending on the colony. Working outside of the colony is generally discouraged but has been allowed in some colonies.
How many Hutterites are in North America?
The Washington Post reports that there are approximately 50,000 Hutterites in North America. The members live in colonies that range in size. The King Colony in Montana that is featured on National Geographic channel's reality show is comprised of 59 members. The Hutterian Brethren reports that there are roughly 45,000 Hutterites divided among 462 colonies, with a majority of members residing in Canada.
Who can join a Hutterite colony?
Most people who live in a Hutterite colony are born into the colony. Although it is rare, non-Hutterites have been able to join a colony. Hutterian Brethren states that while many outsiders have attempted to become a Hutterite, they were unsuccessful for various reasons, such as language barriers, traditional and cultural obstacles, and the vast lifestyle changes.