'Meet the Hutterites' opening Montana religious colony to world on NatGeo

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Religion takes center stage--as does the ever-present conflict of tradition vs. modern society--in a new National Geographic Channel reality series, American Colony: Meet the Hutterites.

The National Geographic Channel will soon be shining the reality spotlight on the Hutterites, “a small religious colony in rural Montana who holds desperately to their sacred traditions while fighting the modern temptations of the outside world.”

Despite the obvious contradiction—why do a reality show with cameras all around if you are “fighting the modern temptations of the outside world”—American Colony: Meet the Hutterites will no doubt pull in viewers who will be curious to find out more about this presumably isolated group.

According to NatGeo, the group—King Colony—consists of only 59 people who are described by the channel as “almost all related,” although the colony does count 16 separate families. This particular fact may raise enough intrigue in itself to bring in an initial viewership for the show. However, it should be noted that there are other Hutterite colonies, a number of them located in Montana. In fact, in the U.S. and Canada, there are approximately 40,000 Hutterites, in more than 480 colonies.

The colony is close in other ways beyond blood kin. As one might expect, they are together almost constantly, living, working and worshiping as one. Still, they are different people, and different people think differently, having different ideas and opinions—thus, the heart of the show. Much of King Colony is said to be trying to continue with the old ways of their ancestors, but, not surprisingly, others, particularly the younger generation, no doubt, are curious about modern-day society. Bringing in modern technology, education and ideas could only improve the solid foundation their ancestors have built—right?

No, say those determined to maintain the old ways: Letting in the modern world will destroy everything they have lived for as Hutterites.

According to NatGeo, this is the “very first glimpse into the world of the Hutterites;” one can only imagine what led the colony to agree to let that first glimpse happen. But, happening it is, beginning Tuesday, May 29, at 10 p.m. E/P, on the National Geographic Channel.

Who Are the Hutterites of King Colony?

The cast of Meet the Hutterites are described as follows by NatGeo; photos and more details of the show, including video footage, are available on the channel’s website:

  • It's a new generation on King Colony and nobody knows this better that 19-year-old Claudia—King Colony’s rebel party girl. When she’s not helping her mom Bertha in the kitchen, Claudia can be found fishing or hunting with the guys, putting on make-up, jamming out to pop music, or re-imagining Hutterite fashion. Check her status on Facebook and you’ll read how much she hates gossip but definitely likes to get into "just the right amount" of trouble with her twin brother Clinton and younger brother Carver.

  • Toby has been the Beef Cow Manager of King Colony for six years, responsible for herding more than 300 heads of cattle, checking the cows for pregnancy, and delivering the baby calves in frigid winter temperatures. It’s an important gig because every year the cows bring in about a quarter of the financial earnings of the colony. Around harvest time, you’ll find Toby hauling hay, fixing fences, helping brothers Marvin and Sam, or chopping off heads at the duck barn—a job he’s had for almost 12 years.

  • As Head Cook and supervisor of King Colony's kitchen, Bertha would be the first to tell you that it’s not easy preparing all the meals for nearly 60 people, six days a week. But no matter how difficult the task, Bertha always (as a rule) starts and ends her day with a smile. Nothing brings more joy to her life than spending time with her teenagers, Claudia, Carver, and Clinton, but the pain of losing her husband to suicide six years ago is a constant test of her faith.

  • As the renaissance man of King Colony, Wesley can pretty much do it all. He somehow found time between farming duties to earn a college degree online in Business Administration and Law with just a 12kbs internet connection. You’ll find him passing the time in the tractor listening to political talk radio or programming a new GPS software in the seeder to help save money and time for the colony. He’s also a certified public water operator, part-time school bus driver, and volunteer firefighter.

  • Carver has had a difficult six years since he lost his father to suicide. Growing up without a dad is hard for any young man, but Carver feels fortunate to have the support of his two siblings who encourage him to stay strong through bouts of anger. After high school, Carver wants to start a life on the outside, but for the time being, he’s content tending to the livestock and being a handyman around the house for his mom Bertha.

  • Anthony, Wesley's brother and Carver's best friend, is one of the most athletic teenagers on the colony. He loves basketball and football and earned the nickname “Sparkplug” for being really fast on the field. A loyal Patriots fan to the core, “Tony 6” (his jersey number) dreams of going to college with a football scholarship and getting drafted to the NFL to play professionally but knows it would be difficult to leave life on the colony.

UPDATE: 'We feel betrayed' say Hutterite Bishops in statement

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Donna (not verified) on
I just last night saw the Hutterite show for the first time. I love learning about other religious groups. I had never heard of this group before. I don't think it's exploitive~~it's informative.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
im an ex hutter i know what she is talking about i watch it ever tuesday i think cloudia and hre mother are so cool so is wesley but she will never stay in the colony

Submitted by Mindy (not verified) on
Can an outsider become a Hutterite? If so how?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
im an ex hutter i know what she is talking about i watch it ever tuesday i think cloudia and hre mother are so cool so is wesley but she will never stay in the colony

Submitted by melissa (not verified) on
I am highly interested in learning more about your heritage even if your choice was to become an ex hutterite.... I am also interested to see why your ancestors didn't travel further NW to Oregon where the soil is great and everyone accepts farmers and religious backgrounds. We are one of the most diverse and accepting states.(Even if we are english). Please email me....

Submitted by Angie Rester (not verified) on
did u find her on facebook

Submitted by DRL (not verified) on
I love the show, learning about their culture..love Claudia and Bertha - so real and I get a kick our of Wesley!!

Submitted by Rene Page (not verified) on
I have enjoyed NatGeo's peek into this Hutterite colony. Each person I've come to know has found a place in my heart. Carver, please accept my condolences regarding your loss of your father. You're a young sensitive man. I can see how much you are struggling right now. Please don't lose heart. Things will get easier. Bertha, I just love you. You're such a good mother. I know your children are growing in ways that cause conflict for you yet you do your best to support them. Hugs and kisses to you! Wesley, you look great. I can see that your efforts to change your lifestyle have produced wonderful results. Perhaps there will be a sweetheart in your near future. You are quite a catch. Toby, you make the hard choices with grace. You are realistic yet understanding of the needs of others. Responsibilty is a heavy weight to bear. You do it so very well. Stay strong. Tammy, don't give up on your desire for higher education. I went back to school in my 30's ... now I have a Master's Degree. You are so young. Hold on to your dreams. And sweet Claudia ... I've saved the best for last. I find your outlook on life and your determination inspiring. You are such a beautiful woman. Your sense of humor makes you even more endearing. Whenever I see your face I giggle with delight. I know you are always up to something. Keep on pushing the envelope. People need to evolve. It's a healthy process. Claudia, I'm not a fan of Facebook but I might join just for you. And for all the members I've not mentioned by name please know how much I've enjoyed your individuality. I look forward to seeing all of you during every episode. Your philosophy of taking care of each other should be embraced by America. You are loved. I would like to know more about Hutterite faith and religous practice. Maybe that will be a future topic on the show. Thank you all for allowing me to see your world. I'd love to show you mine. I'm extending an open invitation for you all to visit me and my family at the New Jersey shore. Sincerely, Rene

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