Another View of “American Colony”

Written by: Mark Waldner on Friday, June 1st, 2012

On May 29th, the first of ten episodes of “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites” aired on National Geographic Channel. A film crew spent months filming the King Ranch Hutterite Colony from the Dariusleut branch of Hutterites near Lewistown, Montana.

The online video clips and the episodes are interesting and entertaining, not only for the regular audience of National Geographic, but also for many of the 49 000 Hutterites who live on colonies scattered throughout the plains in the USA and Canada. The trailers, deleted scenes and photos posted on the website show salient snapshots of life inside the King Colony, appearing to represent an authentic view of life inside this particular colony, warts and all.

Although, the film shows realistic scenes of colony life, many Hutterites especially among the Dariusleut feel offended by the series for various reasons. Many feel that King Colony is not representative of the average Darius colonies.

For example, almost no Hutterites send their students to school outside their community. Invariably students attend school on the colony where they are instructed by qualified teachers. High school, where it is made available, is either offered on the colony or via distance education. Hutterites don’t send their children to outside schools, because they are deeply concerned about the worldly influences to which their children would be exposed. The film, however, shows students attending local public schools against the wishes of the elders, and the problematic worldly influence is clearly portrayed by the younger characters in American Colony.

Another major issue relates to dating non-Hutterites as shown in some of the trailers. Although one of the trailers in American Colony portrays as normal or acceptable for community members to date outside the fold, it would be seen as scandalous if this happened in almost any other colony. Such actions are directly contrary to Hutterite faith and practice where a premium is placed on personal purity and courtship must exemplify Christian communal values. Hutterites in good standing with the church will court only other Hutterites, in most cases from other colonies, but never from off the colony.

The primary concern regarding American Colony as expressed by the larger Hutterite community is spiritual in nature, an expression which the National Geographic series appears to omit. Hutterite life is rooted in faith in God, the teachings of Christ and Anabaptist traditions. When life is examined outside the lens of faith, Hutterite communal living appears oppressive and restrictive; those who resist are viewed as heroic. This is evident in the ‘them vs. us’ attitude towards leadership by several characters. Many Dariusleut and other Hutterites feel that spirituality should have been front and centre, since our whole raison d’être ought to be to serve God and our fellow man. Of course, Hutterites are human beings with all the failings that are associated with being human. As such, many vices do come up and need to be dealt with according to Biblical and traditional values. Still, it would have been paramount in the view of Hutterites to include, prominently, the spiritual component in any documentary.

Many of the things you see in the series, such as the rough language by some members, drinking, cursing, defiance by students and others, wearing make-up, and so forth, are all issues that many colonies deal with. Most colonies take those issues seriously and encourage their young people to avoid these issues, humble themselves, and participate in the colony as part of a Christian team.

Living in Christian community does not eliminate our humanness and thankfully it appears that various members of King Ranch Colony are attempting to deal with some of these issues too, as they well should be.

We have no desire to sit in judgement of any person or the King Ranch Community, but we feel compelled to express our disappointment regarding American Colony. We acknowledge that all Hutterites are imperfect human beings and constantly strive to address some of our failings. Yet the depiction of King Ranch must not be taken to represent a typical Hutterite Colony.

Hutterite and non-Hutterite viewers will find the series to be entertaining and interesting, yet lacking in the essence of what it means to be a true Christian Hutterite. For viewers who are following this particular series, please recognize that it represents the scripted experiences of one particular colony. King Ranch Colony, while sharing many cultural traditions with other Hutterite colonies, ultimately represents only King Ranch Colony and its members as seen through the eyes of the National Geographic American Colony directors.


Thanks to Kenny Wollmann and several Dariusleut friends who offered suggestions and additions to this response.

Showing 170 comments

Julie Rapson said:
On: 18th Jun, 2012 at 06:22

As a southern Baptist, I see this series and wonder how in the name of God your community can condone such a portrayal. Now I understand just a bit better! Since King Colony has chosen to go national with allowing drinking, cell phones, makeup, bar-visiting, and outright defiance, I am really wondering how, if at all, you are addressing this? It CAN-NOT be a realistic portrayal of your lives….?! Obviously you have internet, and access to the series; some of us are wondring how you can allow this degridation of your most honest and pure way of life to continue! I confess I watched it for the first few episodes….. and then cried for your community. If these people are what was presented to the American public as an accurate portrayal of Hutterite life, you were cheated! These people HONESTLY represent you as a VERY strict community which allows your young to do as they please with no reprecussions and adult men who CAN NOT be recognised as anything but another ordinary redneck, while your women’s claim to faith is simply being subserviant to these wild bucks, wearing dresses while the men dress as any redneck man in the general populace! The biggest thing we have seen as of yet……… Women can DRINK, PARTY and get as loud as any man, just DO NOT LET ANYONE SEE THEIR HAIR!!!! I believe that you have higher values than this…….. if not, you are no more pious than we are, you just cover your womens hair. I’m just saying….!

    Jack said:
    On: 18th Jun, 2012 at 06:37

    Hutterites Upset Over New Reality Show’s ‘Distorted’ Portrayal

    By Lillian Kwon | Christian Post Reporter

    (Photo: National Geographic Channel)
    Hutterite bishops are crying foul over a new show on the National Geographic Channel that they say distorts their community and way of life.
    “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites” is the name of the reality series and while it aims to provide a glimpse into an otherwise private community, Hutterite leaders say much of it is contrived.
    “What was promised by the producers to be a ‘factual documentary’ is, in fact, a distorted and exploitative version of Hutterite life that paints all 50,000 Hutterites in North America in a negative and inaccurate way. Scenes and dialogue were contrived resulting in a ‘make believe’ depiction of how we live and the spiritual beliefs we cherish,” Bishops John Stahl, Peter Entz and John Waldner said in a statement Thursday.
    Hutterites share a common ancestry with the Anabaptists, along with the Mennonites and Amish. They share many of the same beliefs and doctrine but where the Hutterites differ is their belief in sharing their possessions.
    The show focuses on one of nearly 500 Hutterite Colonies – the King Ranch Colony in Montana which is made up of 59 people, almost all of whom are related.
    But considering the Hutterites are a very private community, it was a surprise that the show’s creators were able to get access at all.
    Like us on Facebook
    Mary-Ann Kirkby, author of I Am Hutterite, told The Christian Post that it was “without doubt, a coup that show creators were able to film Hutterites at all.”
    “The creators chose to go directly to the King Ranch Colony to seek permission, rather than the proper channels of requesting such from the Bishop,” she said. “By the time the Bishop found out about the proposed show, the creators had a signed document of agreement from the King Ranch Colony Manager.”
    With a signed contract, the creators threatened legal action if the colony pulled out, according to Kirkby. They thus worked out an agreement with the creators agreeing to “accurately portray” the Hutterites.
    The show began airing on May 29 and so far, the bishops aren’t happy and believe the show is in “serious breach” of contract.
    “We’re very upset,” Entz from Canada told CP.
    The bishops initially trusted the National Geographic Channel, considering “its stellar reputation.” But they now feel “betrayed.”
    “We are deeply saddened by the skewed image with which the public may now perceive the Hutterite faith and way of life. It is distorted and damaging,” they stated.
    Kirkby specified how the show has inaccurately portrayed the Hutterites:
    hunting scenes with guns (Hutterites are pacifists)
    the excessive bad language and disrespect for elders
    the fake council meeting, held in the dining room instead of the church with no minister present and inappropriate topics and structure to the discussion
    in the last episode about a Canadian wedding … the wedding was imaginary, according to sources at King Ranch colony. The underage teens were supplied with alcohol under the guise that they were in Canada where there is a lower drinking age. In addition, the dialogue and scenes regarding dating outside the colony was fiction with a real lack of thought given to any sort of accuracy.
    “The situations are very contrived and staged and having spoken with Hutterites on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border, they do not recognize themselves nor relate to the situations seen in ‘American Colony,'” Kirkby said.
    The bishops admit they’re not “perfect” and do face many challenges. “Nevertheless, our vision is to live meaningful Christian lives in community as Christ has instructed us to do.”
    So who exactly are the Hutterites?
    “Simply put, the Hutterites are the finest and most successful example of community life in the modern world,” Kirkby stated. “Hutterites are a very private people group. Because of their adherence to the biblical admonition ‘be ye in the world, but not of the world,’ few outsiders have ever been privy to the details of the Hutterite way of life.”
    The Hutterite community began with Jacob Hutter, who was part of the Anabaptist movement. His vision was based on the New Testament book of Acts 2: “And all that believed were together and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need.”
    “Our history began 500 years ago on a dusty path in Moravia during the reformation when a handful of refugees put a rugged blanket on the ground and placed all of their possessions on it including everything they were carrying in their pockets,” Kirkby explained.
    “For years Hutterites were not allowed to have pockets to symbolize the common ownership of goods.”
    Hutterites do not get paid a wage or have a bank account but “everyone is generously taken care of from cradle to the grave.”
    They also eat all their meals in the community kitchen together.
    “The tenets of our faith are adult baptism, pacifism, non-swearing of oaths and of course, community life,” the author summed.

Brenda said:
On: 20th Jun, 2012 at 03:45

I came across NGC American Colony: Meet the Hutterites for the first time tonight. Not knowing anything of this group of people I was interested, but didn’t think the show portrayed the true essence of your culture. Thank you to the Hutterite community for expressing your opinions about the show and maintaining this website. As an elementary teacher, I want my knowledge base to be accurate. While I applaud NGC for showcasing people and experiences with which I am not familiar, I understand the concept of creative editing and the contrived activities of reality t.v. So thank you for this forum to learn more about the Hutterite way of life.

Sam said:
On: 20th Jun, 2012 at 03:45

I find it sickening and very backwards that the women are treated less then equal to the men. How is that what God wants? Ironic that it’s ok to use computers but not to treat women equally, its sooo wrong on so many levels!! Not allowed to wear dress slacks, drive a 4 wheeler and so on….So grateful to God that he placed me where I am. I am truly blessed!

Inaya Shujaat said:
On: 20th Jun, 2012 at 04:11

As an American Muslim, I can understand just how inaccurate “reality TV” can be, when a cultural or religious community is being represented/depicted (the failed TLC series, All American Muslim was anything but accurate). It is sad, though, that this will be the only exposure that many will ever have, and so they will believe the series to be both accurate and faithful in its depiction of Hutterite life. One can only hope that more people will remember to refer to Google. 🙂

Tlee014 said:
On: 20th Jun, 2012 at 13:46

Mark, first, I’d like to say that I thought your blog was well written. I attended college in Billings Montana and occasionally had the opportunity to interact with Hutterites in the community though only briefly . I can personally say that I never had a bad experience or felt anything but awe at the way the Hutterites conducted themselves in public.

My husband and I have watched the series on NatGeo since it first aired and one of the first things we felt was that the series was definitely scripted and edited to keep the public interested. Though I don’t believe the intentions of NatGeo was to do harm, drama sells and so that’s what’s shown.

Where the younger adults and teenagers are concerned, I honestly believe in my heart that they are merely testing their boundaries as any growing personality will do. Though they live in a community who live and are governed by religious beliefs, they are still individuals and as such, need to find their own individuality prior to being baptized. After all, ist’t that the point of waiting until they are old enough to decide for themselves if this way of life is what they want to commit themselves to? It seems to me that while some of these behaviors are frowned upon by the Hutterite community, one would think that the “influences from the outside world” wouldn’t be such a big deal if the community itself felt secure in their way of life. It’s a choice every Hutterite makes, to conform and be part of the community or to move out and on with their worldly lives.

For what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.

Lastly… I have to say, I love watching Bertha experience new things. She’s just the cutest thing and watching her glow and giggle when she does something non-traditional just makes my heart happy. Go Bertha!

TVC said:
On: 20th Jun, 2012 at 19:24

I am concerned, curious about Bertha and her children….in regard to her husband’s suicide. Is this common amongst the Hutterites? Is it something “swept under the rug”?
Has the Colony given this family any emotional support, counseling, etc? Do you see the anger in the children, evidenced in their acting out? Am I the only one wondering about this? I like Bertha and admire her, but I worry that she has been sent adrift. The children don’t seem to have any adult male role model to follow after their father’s death.

Freedom said:
On: 21st Jun, 2012 at 02:34

Everyone has the right and free will to worship as they wish. I have my own opinions on what I have read here on this site and what I have witnessed on the show. No one needs to hear them. ~Take Care Hutterites

TM said:
On: 21st Jun, 2012 at 03:09

I thought it was interesting. I hadn’t ever seen Hutterites before. I knew from history or something that you were anabaptist. I think one of the most distinctive things is your communal living. It is good to see people who are concerned with living by what their scripture says. Most Christians that I see, pick and choose what to follow, and most of what is in the Bible they skip over. As a Muslim we differ, theologically. We follow a strict form of monotheism and believe that God alone, without any partner or associate is worthy of being worshiped. However we also stand out due to our lifestyle and adherence to our religion. I have often been mistaken for amish.

Schatzie said:
On: 21st Jun, 2012 at 19:33

As an “English” person, I find the show to be interesting and have valuable lessons. To us outsiders, my family loves the show. It is clear to us that they’re likeable, relateable people .

They have the opportunity to leave by having experience in the “outside world” yet they choose to stay in their traditions. Yes, the younger ones show to sometimes be a little bit more defiant and question what is right and wrong, but that is often times how one truly comes to understand their destiny– and I don’t see anyone running out of the colony 🙂

I come from a very Catholic family, and I grew up resisting some beliefs, most of which I now accept, but some I never will. However, I never neglect my religion, nor do I look at others as doing something “right” or “wrong”.. different doesn’t mean bad.

Truth be told, I think King Colony is a great crew and makes the Hutterite people seem lively yet devout. They seem to reason and try to allow their younger generation to think for themselves, but still instill their values and traditions. I think they’re the perfect people to help everyone in the “English world” understand what they stand for, and that people have things in common with each other.

Good for them. I hope this brings GREAT things for them. Everyone should be more supportive. I think they’re really wonderful.

P. Stuebner said:
On: 22nd Jun, 2012 at 20:23

I just saw a few episodes and I have to say I find the men and woman enduring. I would assume that after the airing of the shows each person will have to account for their “good” or “bad” behavior or language. For me I guess you could say I live in and of the world. But I use to belong to a very involved and dedicated group of Christians, that I do not want to mention. Because of my teaching of God’s word I understand the need to keep the outsiders away from your children and young adults. The world has temptations everywhere and as we all know children and young adults do not understand the possible pitfalls of life. Not only that, the survival of the colony depends upon the younger generations. This may sound strange to some, but the colony in my opinion is not just a group of folks that eat, work and commune together, but the way of God’s will. So, if their is no colony then Hutterite colony will be failing God’s will. This is something that I would think would be a heartbreaking event for these people. My advise to the young people of these colonies is to do as you are told, live as God wishes and trust that nothing Good can come from a world that in my opinion is not of God. There are many, many children that do not have male or female role models in their lives. They come home after school everyday to a parent free home. In the world we are so isolated as a people that our children cannot go outside for fear awful things happening to them. There are hoards of children that go to preschools from 6am to 6pm daily. They cry for their family. You have a strong traditional base that you have been blessed with, do not think there is more, there really is not. God and Family that is God’s will. So, although this show does not stress the spiritual side of colony life it does make my heart glad that their are young men that still work selflessly, women that work selflessly. It does my heart glad to see women and men laugh at the simple joys of life.

karen said:
On: 22nd Jun, 2012 at 20:46

I was glad to read this thoughtful blog post about the TV series. I “stumbled” across the series a couple of weeks ago and was surprised – first, by the “reality show” quality of the series, since I expected something less “flashy” and sensational from NG – and second, by some of the aspects of the community life that were presented; all in all, it seemed a very unpalatable way of life, IMO – swearing, young people back-talking parents and other older people, flavored with a fear of outside education/intellectual development. The show seemed to present a very strange and, to me at least, confusing mix of beliefs and practice … especially after having read more scholarly articles about the Hutterites that seemed to emphasize modesty and humility – neither of which seemed to be present in the show. Perhaps the presentation has much to do with NG’s desire to make a “reality” series imbued with drama, and maybe something to do with a few heads being turned by the presence of a camera. I’m glad I also “stumbled” on this blog entry, because the show certainly left my family and I with a less than favorable opinion of the Hutterites. Regardless, I don’t think we’ll be watching the series again – especially after seeing the promo for this week’s episode, where one of the young women’s smiling faces is spattered in duck blood. Lovely.

jo said:
On: 26th Jun, 2012 at 22:18

Are Hutterites good about proselytizing?

one wonders said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 01:46

At what point does the gene pool become an issue? If not many outsiders choose to become a part of the Hutterite community, isn’t there a potential for massive inbreeding? How is this addressed and/or prevented?

    Sandy said:
    On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 02:38

    The gene pool is getting a little thin at some colonies. They are not supposed to marry closer than second cousins.

Sandy said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 02:23

I am a public school teacher and teach at a Hutterite colony. At this colony, the kids do not go to school in town. The colony I teach at:
– is far stricter than King Colony
-kids only go to the 8th grade
-internet is not allowed at the colony school
-people have jobs at the colony, they do not work outside the colony
All colonies are different, so the public needs to keep an open mind about what they see on this program about colony life.

Jeanne said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 02:57

I too find the information of the American colony by National Geographic, to be a sad picture of all colonies. Surely love the greatest commandment should prevail. This colony shows itself as disrespectful and undisciplined. I have expected a body of elders to show up and question their values. Although no one seems to want to take responsibility to teach these folks how they are harming their spiritual path, and the reputation of their colony. One can only hope this is fake, staged and that makes me question their motives for doing so.
At one time I considered wanting to join the Huteritte faith. It is a good thing there was nothing like this back then. Please show your love and counsel this colony before it is too late.

Gerald Matterhorn said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 06:48

As someone who had never heard of Hutterites prior to this series, I’ve appreciated the glimpse into their colony and life. All walks of life have moments of change and transition, and what I learned from watching this show is that (at least this colony of) Hutterites seem to be grappling with that. Some of their traditions seem lame and horribly outdated to someone from the outside. But I also respect that they have the right to live how they want. If the elders from Canada don’t like it, then this colony can exist on their own, absent any labels. Everyone should be allowed to choose their own destiny. Lastly, I don’t have any reason to believe the colony was exploited. They knew what they would be getting themselves into, and while a show cannot broadcast all the hours of footage they shot, I believe they showed an honest representation. Good, bad, ugly, funny, and sad.

John Horsley said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 17:58

Our family has been hooked on the TV show from day one. At first, I will admit I had no idea about the Hutterites….never even heard of them. Probably the closest thing I can compare with would be the Mennonites back in Ammons, KY. I will gladly say that Bertha Hofer is truly an inspiration because of her faith in Jesus Christ has carried her through some really difficult times. In fact, I couldn’t imagine raising a family on my own….whether it be in a Hutterite colony or English community. All in all, I believe the good outweigh the bad on the TV show. Matthew 7:20, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Amy said:
On: 27th Jun, 2012 at 20:41

I watched only one episode of the show American Colony.
I have to say as a christian who has studied several religion I had never heard of the Hutterites and I found it very facinating to watch. As with most reality shows the producers are looking for ratings… so it is wise for anyone to keep in mind that it mostlikely does not represent the entire group. And I would even venture to assume that even some of the King’s group is not in agreeance with this show.
Thank you for the blog and helping to educate myself and others about this group.
I am looking forward to learning more!! Blessings!

Fred M said:
On: 28th Jun, 2012 at 06:11

All I can say after watching the show and learning more about the Hutterites is that I truly envy your way of life. You are a blessed people. All my life I’ve yearned for the sort of simple life of quiet devotion and faith the Hutterites lead.

Michelle Coupland said:
On: 3rd Jul, 2012 at 22:48

I am hoping that the show did not depict the correct meaning of what it is the be an Hutterite, as it was my first impression of the community, and it shocked and saddened me. I have been a strong and independent woman of my 45 years, and was saddened with how the woman of the community are treated!

Matt In Kentucky said:
On: 4th Jul, 2012 at 03:59

One camera catches some bad behavior; dozens capture thousands of hours of film that can be stewed into a currently trendy soup of “reality TV” and the biggest story in my mind is that the leadership was either embarrased by the spotlight, or maybe jealous.
I, as an outsider to your world, have seen the media trash groups. My take is that by stripping you of the only thing the outside world knows about you, your religion, they opened the door to some actual Christianity. I saw beautiful family and loving communication that doesn’t exist in modern America. Gender expectations among males and females, while totally foreign to us, made some sort of “sense”; I, for sure, don’t think you odd. I witnessed hard work and fair play. I saw no genuine anger. I didn’t see pious people babbling about old stories, I saw that their children had embraced the morals and lived by them. It is the artistic staff at National Geographic that stole your cane to show that you can walk.
I’ll be honest, had your show been filled with religious judgement, I wouldn’t have watched one complete episode. Fear not, we aren’t as stupid as you may assume and we realize there was plenty of church between plot twists. I’d prefer to watch the actual human walking the walk, as your brothers and sisters clearly do. Furthermore, who doesn’t have disrespectful children? It’s should be comforting to see that some of them have brains of their own as history has shown a eternal need for leadership.
Just thought I’d throw that out there as I was bummed out to hear y’all were bummed out about a clearly beautiful bunch of people on a rather interesting show.

Michael said:
On: 4th Jul, 2012 at 06:19

I found the television show very interesting and refreshing, while you may not want the show to be viewed as an accurate portrayel of hutterire lifestyle, I think the series shows depiction of family, togetherness is wonderful. I think the people at King’s Colony are warm caring good Christian people. If nothing else it proivides the people who had no eposure to the lifestyle at all some insight, and given the history of this country i promise that you are better off in this ever changing and challenging world with understanding, especially if you are a religious minority that has been from Germany, Austria, Russia, the Ukraine, and half way accross the United States partly because there was a lack of that understanding.

Gale S. said:
On: 4th Jul, 2012 at 07:42

It seems quite a few have remarked that the children and young adults shown on the show are disrespectful to their elders. I see the fact that the children speak to their parents and elders about their conflicts to be an encouraging sign. I have noticed many think the only way to be respectful is to be totally obedient to elders. Christ was not completely obedient to those who would have been considered his elders or betters. Questioning can lead to understanding, and a mind that questions is less easily led than one taught to mute acceptance.

I have been watching the series and have been disappointed to see so little information about the religious beliefs which led the Hutterites to live in the colonies as they do. The positive is that I then sought more information on the Internet. The one thing that I think I would have difficulty with if I had grown up in such a community, is that the roles and expectations are so clearly defined as to what will be the work of an adult. What happens if a child is found to have artistic, literary, or musical talents, for instance? Tending cattle, farming, cooking and cleaning would not give the outlet that a creative person would need as much as air.

James Bruce Tinsley said:
On: 4th Jul, 2012 at 07:44

I have been searching for meaning in my shallow life for some time now. I was raised as a Roman Catholic but I have fallen away from the church. I’m interested in finding
out a little more about Anabaptist traditions and what you believe in.

Michael grisham said:
On: 4th Jul, 2012 at 22:32

I agree the colony in the series should not be seen as the average Hutterite colony. But I have much respect for them and other Hutterites ever since I was young I have often wonderd why we do not live this way through Sunday school and church I’ve learned that the communal way of life is the right way. So I have a question is it possible for a Christian outside the colony to join a colony? I very much wish to live my life closer to god and live a much more traditional life I would very much appreciate a honest answer thank you

Janet said:
On: 5th Jul, 2012 at 03:27

I think that most people actually understand that NatGeo omitted the spiritual part of the Colony for entertainment purposes. All in all, I LOVE the show, I love the people in it and I for one, understand that it is scripted– but at least we get to learn some things about this nice group of people. You can also tell that everyone cares for everyone else and that it is a very caring and giving society in which they live. I will be very bored the day it’s not aired any longer as I look very forward to watching the show every week! Thank you for sharing with us your lives and customs.

Martha Hoffer said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 02:32

Bertha is such a great person I would love to be her email friend and let her know that she is a fantastic person. Is that possible?

Melonee said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 05:05

I really love the show, as I have never even heard of Hutterites before. Now saying that, I believe the elders have put too much emphasis on the negative instead of relishing the postives of this show. I watch to see and learn how they do things in nonconventional ways. Anyone can see the stuggles of everyday life they are put through. I love the warmth of the meal making scenes, seeing how they harvest their gardens, what is done with the produce, the cattle, how to men their fences, I could go on and on…. Let them be proud of reaching beyond their colony by doing this show, to make someone smile or trigger a memory about a lost loved one who maybe taught a few of those things in their lives at some point. The colony is a beautiful show with amazing people who the Hutterites should be very proud of and not feel shame in any way. They represent ALL Gods people, in every struggle in some form. As human beings on this planet we learn from the good with the bad. They are good people with the love of God on their faces. They NOTHING to be ahamed for! They have shown me alot from watching this show and I will continue to watch it. If the Hutterite Elders are ahamed of this show, then that is the same as saying they are ashamed of their religion as well. And SHAME on THEM!

Lauren said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 06:30

Hi! I just stumbled upon this show! I have never even heard of the Hutterites! I find the show interesting! I personally am a city girl from Chicago,but crave a lifestyle like this! Maybe not as extreme but similar! And I must say the one guy on the show, Can’t remember his name…he is so good looking!!

penny mcfarland said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 12:00

I was happy to see the subject of cursing, drinking, and defiance addressed. I have been following this program and questioned the fact that the parents and elders appeared to have been accepting of this behavior. I understand the fact that the colony frowns on sports though I don’t agree w/this belief but the program states it is because of the dress code which can easily be resolve.d. I did not see alot of respect for each other on this show nor did the true religion be addressed. King Colony does not address the daily devotions. I felt that the defiance depicted obscene. Outsiders would not tolerate this from their children. On the whole, ever prior to reading the previous blog I felt this series does not truly show the religious, communal life of the true Colony

Jennifer said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 16:01

I was shocked at the level of disrespect the teens show toward their elders on the show. We live in a large city in middle America. My kids (14,13, 6, 5, 3 and 1) will never be allowed to behave like that! Shameful.

Kevin said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 16:06

I just watched the first two episodes last night and was glad to read your blog on the show this morning. I grew up in rural South Dakota near two Hutterite colonies. I did not spend any time on a colony, but the local Hutterites came to town from time to time and I had friends who spent a significant amount of time at the colonies. When I watched the show, I was quite taken aback. The colony life portrayed was much different than what I understood growing up in S.D. I’m a little more educated now that I’ve read your blog. My experiences come from different colonies (and different sects as I understand) and from a different time (~ 30 years ago). Thanks for giving me that perspective and I’ll remember that when I watch the show in the future.

Judi Smith said:
On: 6th Jul, 2012 at 16:29

Agree that the religious part/beliefs of this group is missing but everything I have read is that this was an agreement that the colony had with the group doing the filming – not sure why except maybe they thought it would get them into trouble with the elders or give viewers another reason to criticize their way of living – do feel it would add to the realism of the series and give viewers a better idea of what colony life is all about.

Stephanie said:
On: 7th Jul, 2012 at 04:25

If I wanted to visit one of the colonies, would I be welcomed? How would I arrange it and what should I expect?

Kari said:
On: 7th Jul, 2012 at 19:58

Mr. Waldner, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Anyone who watches television knows of this genre and anyone with more than 2 neurons knows:
to take it with a grain of salt;
to use it as an entertainment spring board to learn more about the true realities by personal research; and,
that those represented in these episodes do not represent the whole for if they did, we’d all be in trouble because the world would think we were all Snookies, Lindsays and Paris’……..then, we can say God help us all…..


Joan said:
On: 9th Jul, 2012 at 23:25

I find the title misleading from the content of the show. Acting out scenes, reinacting, whatever they want to call it, isn’t “real”.
I’m wondering if this particular Colony has strayed from the flock. I really don’t think this show is representative of the general Hutterite people.
In fact, they all act just like the general non-Hutterite population! In fact, the only difference between them and us is the clothing and living as a group!
They just aren’t that special, if this show is what it says it is.

puff diddy said:
On: 12th Jul, 2012 at 01:00


Does the King Ranch Hutterite Colony really grow the best dope out west?

puff diddy said:
On: 12th Jul, 2012 at 01:01

Does the King Ranch Hutterite Colony really grow the best dope out west?

Janet Zoellner said:
On: 12th Jul, 2012 at 03:06

Thank you for your heartfelt comments. As an outsider early in my nursing career I was impressed by the kindness and generosity of the Hutterite colony near Estelline, SD where I lived. There is a true spiritual heritage which the show ignores. Please know it is apparent in the lives of the brethren I have observed!

Mrs Ann Foutch said:
On: 12th Jul, 2012 at 05:42

Thanks for publishing this web page about the Hutterites. I watched the show on National Geographic and was horrified by some of the language, attitudes and other issues. To me, they showed this group of people as “English” in conservative clothing. They missed a lot to me, and felt like when I was watching it, it was a scam. I am not a Hutterite, but attend a Baptist church. My family dresses somewhat conservatively. Glad there is a balanced view out there. Thanks!

George M. Johnson said:
On: 13th Jul, 2012 at 03:57

Having seen a well done documentary about a Hutterite colony years ago, I was disappointed with the shallowness and scripting of this series. I doubt that it portrays the colony as it really is, and is a disservice to Hutterites and Anabaptists of any denomination.
Unfortunately, many “reality” TV series are not very realistic – I saw that this was the case with this show from the first few minutes.

Nicole said:
On: 14th Jul, 2012 at 19:53

Thank you for writing this. As a “outsider” I have varying opinions, one of them though is the obvious- everything is scripted and i almost wonder if some of the offenses would even occur if not for the cameras present. I would hope that the colony will receive ample compensation monetarily in order to help the community as a whole. I especially enjoyed learning how they harvest trees and make beds as well as hatch quail from eggs that arrived by mail.
As a woman who sews for my children daily I found the sewing bit humorous since it seems to suggest the girls could sew dresses for all of them in one night (with no mention of patterns!) claudia’s dress appeared to be made by another seamstress, as the cut suggests accurate sewing. I might suggest they invest in some new machines- and rather than burning the dresses they would have been better selling the good on etsy (claudia’s dress should have brought at least $60-$80) the other’s dresses could have been cut up and turned into cloth diapers or rags. What a foolish way to spend money- fabric averages about $8-9 pr yard from a quilt shop- All I saw was waste in that section- never mind the suggestion that they are new sewers.
I find many of the scenes to be too unrealistic. If my daughter came out dressed in a way that was unacceptable in my community i would not stand next to her- i would march her back in and make her change regardless of if she’s 6yrs old or 16.
I prefer the show “Amish Out of Order” as it seems at least slightly more realistic.
I wish they would stop trying to make it “reality tv” and change it more to a “documentary on a weekly basis”.
I can so appreciate that money balancing is a fine art and admire the money bosses attempts to always search for resources to make with their hands and sell. May all Hutterites be richly blessed in their lives and continue this way of life. I wish my life could dip more closely to yours. Already i am the only mom I knew who sews for my girls in my area of New England.

mike brown said:
On: 16th Jul, 2012 at 01:44

i am not a hutterite but the more i learn the i agree with jacob hutter. our outsiders welcome in colony to live or do u gotta be born into a colony

mike brown said:
On: 16th Jul, 2012 at 01:45


Craig Brennan said:
On: 16th Jul, 2012 at 22:40

Hello, Kenny my name is Craig Brennan and I am from Texas and my family loves the outdoors. My family loves this show and we cant wait till the next week to see what will happen next. We never laugh at these families we laugh with them they seem to be great people and well grounded and I wish I knew them personelly. We realize that some of the things taking place on the show are not representive of Hutterites but thats what makes it so real. HEY AMERICA HUTTERITES ARE REAL PEOPLE TOO AND HAVE SOME OF THE SAME ISSUE AS BOTH YOU AND I BAD AND GOOD.. Kenny this a very good group of people with sound strong ideals you should be very proud of these people they are trying to hold on to somthing that has lasted since the 1500’s in a world that now tecknology for the first time in the history of man kind is ahead of the human race and it is causing problems world wide. Somtimes you have to let it swing both ways and even then sit back and learn from it that is to say figure out what will help the Hutterites endore maybe some change is good I dont know but I do know and so does the whole watching comunity of this show that there is alot more to your life style then what is seen we all have already been to the pupet show and rodeo we live this crazy world outside the box. Any way we liked the hunting show my family are hunters we hunt all the time we were pulling for the young man whose dad had passed to get a buck I take children hunting just like him all the time there is few better feelings then watching a young man get a buck.I love it in fact that young man and others would be welcome to hunt deer on my ranch in Texas any time. Kenny dont take this show off the air this is a good thing just maybe construct some constraints but not to much that it kills the aliveness of all these people its a good thing Kenny you did good.

DD said:
On: 18th Jul, 2012 at 04:06

If it wasn’t for the series I would have never found this website, which serves to educate. From this perspective, I believe the show may be a blessing in disguise for the Hutterites. It’s unfortunate that organized religion tends to put people at odds with one another. I personally believe none of us will know the “truth” until after we’ve drawn our last breath. Until then, Peace to all.

Stephanie said:
On: 18th Jul, 2012 at 16:59

I don’t understand how you guys can get drunk and then go to church the next day? You make the women wear ugly dresses with bonnets yet they can cuss and get drunk at bar’s? Watching this on TV I am very confused… and now a few are going to a concert? Basically, you live EXACTLY like the rest of us, you just dress funny and call yourselves saved. You can’t write your own religion and expect to make it to heaven. I never read about Jesus cussing and downing shots by the fire. Please!!

Daisy said:
On: 21st Jul, 2012 at 19:04

I truely enjoy the show and am glad to see it on every week. I wish it was on more frequently. Today, there are many shows and movies that show violence and other things that just don’t impress me much. I like to watch the Hutterite show with its traditions and family values. If you understand how the show influences others, then maybe you can also understand, in more ways than one, the show does have an impact. I truely hope to see it in the future, struggles and all.

CW said:
On: 21st Jul, 2012 at 20:11

While I respect the rural and agrarian lifestyle, I also feel strongly that no “faith focus” would justify the oppression that is placed upon children raised in Hutterite or other colonial Anabaptist sects. Your post, while attempting to point out the inconsistencies between most colonies and the king ranch, has done nothing more than to prove that conditions elsewhere are likely worse than those portrayed on the show. “High school, where available”? Really? The state should work to pursue truancy charges and fines against the colonies that don’t offer what has become a minimum standard of education for the rest of America. It doesn’t matter if these injustices are rooted in faith or not. Adults may choose to volunteer freedoms and education for the sake of faith, but we as citizens have a duty to protect kids until that point is reached.

    Mike said:
    On: 22nd Jul, 2012 at 07:24

    You’re 100% correct and I feel bad for the kids who are born into this lifestyle. Even when they become of age and technically can leave, they have no money, low social skills, lack higher education and have never been independent. They’re doomed to stay even if they want to leave. And am I the only one who noticed how fat and unhealthy everyone looks? I really feel bad for these kids. Who would want to love somewhere where individual expression is not allowed. No wonder they shun weirdly influences because they know if these people really saw how exciting life can be they’d all leave in a heartbeat. It’s also hypocritical that these people shun outsiders and put their communal religious lifestyle on a pedestal but yet wholly rely on outside doctors, dentists, teachers etc. You woulda also thought these people would practice healthy farming methods.

RJ said:
On: 22nd Jul, 2012 at 03:42

Afterall, this is a reality show. I personally found it interesting. At least these people are aware of their heritage. I wish that I would have been blessed to have known my heritage. So, who cares about all of the bad behavior displayed. As followers of God, we all fall short of His glory. This world would be a better place to live in if we all were part of a community interested in each others well being.