Hutterites - Orientation



Identification. The Hutterites in Canada and the United States are a Germanic people with origins in the Swiss Anabaptist movement that developed between 1525 and 1536 during the Reformation. Along with the Old Order Amish and Mennonites, the two other Anabaptist groups in North America, the Hutterites reject childhood baptism, are pacifists, maintain a closed religious community, and reject full participation in the Canadian and American societies. Unlike the two other Anabaptist groups, however, the Hutterites strictly adhere to community ownership of property and communal living patterns in farm communities (colonies) of from 60 to about 150 people each. Since settling in North America, the Hutterites have divided into three Leut (groups of colonies): the Dariusleut (mostly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana), the Schmiedeleut (mostly in Manitoba and South Dakota), and the Lehrerleut (in Alberta, Montana, and Saskatchewan).

Location. Hutterites (colonies) are found mainly in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in Canada (253 colonies in 1989) and the states of South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, and Minnesota in the United States (103 in 1989). Because of a high birth rate and a desire to keep colonies small, new colonies are regularly being formed.

Demography. About 1,265 Hutterites fled to what is now South Dakota from Russia in 1874. Only 443 chose to live communally. The population has increased to 31,521 in 1990. The rapid population growth at a rate of 4 percent per year is attributable to a high birth rate (completed family size of nine children) and a low attrition rate (less than 2 percent). Few outsiders are recruited through conversion and the Hutterites do not missionize.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Hutterites speak the Huttrish dialect of German, use biblical High German in religious services, and speak English with outsiders.

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