Meet America’s Not-So-Modern Family: The Hutterites

The Hutterite community—one of the country’s least understood cultures—live in a world where all resources are shared, everyone dresses similarly and nearly everyone is related. But in this colony of pacifists, it’s not all about farming and milking cows. This family lives together, works together and worships God together seven days a week, 365 days a year, for their entire lives—and like any family, this one doesn’t always agree.

Meet the Hutterites; a small religious colony in rural Montana who hold desperately to their sacred traditions while fighting the modern temptations of the outside world. King Colony is made up of 59 people and they are almost all related. Most of the colony is holding tight to the age-old traditions of their ancestors, while others are flirting with modern society.  Some feel that bringing modern technology, education and ideas into the colony will only help it, while others believe that this modern way of thinking threatens their very existence.

Bertha and her children Claudia, Clinton and Carver are part of the more progressive side of the family. Bertha has kept her son in public high school even though it is frowned upon by the elders of the Hutterite church, because traditionally all Hutterite children drop out of school at 16 to work on the colony. Claudia is known as the rebel of the colony and while she loves the colony, she longs for more out of life and begins contemplating and experimenting with what she will do with her future. Bertha wants her children to be happy, but would be heartbroken if they decided to leave the colony.

Rita was the first woman on King colony to get a drivers license and is one of the few women her age to have graduated from high school. She has taught her two sons, Wesley and Anthony, the importance of education. Wesley is 24 years old, and is the only person on King colony to have ever graduated from college. Wesley loves modern technology and uses it everyday.  He desires to devote his live to the Hutterite church but wishes they would open their minds to certain things in the modern world like education and more technology.

Marvin is the money boss and is from the more conservative side of the colony. He is in charge of running the finances and making many of the decisions on how the colony is run.  Marvin tries his best to run the colony in the way the elders intend and works very hard to follow the traditions and rules of the church and God. His brother Toby is the cattle boss and he is in charge of the important job of taking care of the beef cows which one of the colony’s biggest moneymakers. Toby believes in the Hutterite traditions and looks forward to the day when his son can drop out of school to help him on the colony.

The differences between the roles of the men and women, the young and old, the conservative and progressive threaten to tear the family apart and ultimately the Hutterite way of life. This is the very first glimpse into the every day lives, thoughts and hearts of a group of people most of us have never even heard of.  This is a journey unlike anything we know or could ever understand and is sure to shock us at every turn.

Tune in to the season premiere of American Colony: Meet the Hutterites tonight at 10P et/pt


  1. Terri
    May 29, 2012, 10:01 pm

    I love this show!!! Mrs. Bertha Hofere needs a fan page. It is her personality, her values, and her committment to her children that are going to make this show. Love you Mrs. Bertha!

  2. Valia Muzyka Gardner
    Springfield Missouri
    May 29, 2012, 10:34 pm

    I just LOVE this show! I think Claudia and her mom are wonderful! I am so incredibly touched by the love that Bertha has for her children – I am a huge fan of hers after just one episode – carry on! 🙂

  3. James
    May 29, 2012, 11:03 pm

    I have watched a couple of shows and these people are no different than any non-Hutterite. They swear, play video games, use cell phones, use computers, and drink beer. Why even exist in the colony? Their actions alone show how they have neglected their own rules. It seems like a farce. At least out of control children are not only with our society. That Claudia is a hot one for tradition:) She is going to put her mom thorough all kinds of heck.

  4. Liz
    May 30, 2012, 2:05 pm

    @ James…im sure some of the things you’ve mentioned r true! BUT Has it ever occurred to you that these ppl r not all the same?…i know these ppl well enuff to know that they are alot different then the ppl that live outside their hutterite colonies! ..and often ppl r quick to judge them all for one…one for all! Although im sure their not perfect like everybody else in this world, but i know that their Respectable, Amazing and God fearing people whom i admire in all they do! who live, work, eat, worship together, and share all things in common!! Doesn’t matter really how many shows you’ll watch you’ll never get the real feel of what these ppl r like!

  5. Judy
    May 30, 2012, 2:50 pm

    I thought the program seemed staged and not real.

  6. John
    Bailey Colorado
    May 30, 2012, 11:38 pm

    I watched one episode last night, I`M HOOKED! I hope to watch every episode and get to know the Colony. I`m still learning everyone’s names, the only two I know so far are Claudia and her Mom Bertha. Bertha`s love for her children is a lot like mine, I hope they both can live their life and be able to follow their heart the way God wants us to, All the men are great! I enjoy their humor and hard work everyday. Thanks for sharing your world, I`m looking forward to every episode!!

  7. riley
    United States
    May 31, 2012, 12:03 am

    i love this show iv meet some of the people from king colony at a wedding knowing about them just made it better

  8. Jean
    May 31, 2012, 10:09 am

    I am VERY dissappointed in NatGeo on this documentary. What could be an extremely interesting series on the different coloies and families, following them in their daily lives, is now a side-show of orchestrated reality-life drama. Being raised around colonies, knowing families who have lost their children to the outside, sharing their joys and sorrows, I find this program offesive and orchestrated. There is so much we can learn from them besides this mess of a drama series.

  9. Brenda
    May 31, 2012, 8:20 pm

    As an ex Hutteritte, I found the Hutterite documentary offensive and played out. A huge part of it is fake. If I want drama I can watch soaps. I lived on the colony for 18 years, I know the rules and lifestyles. It ‘s disheartening to see a culture that has so many great things to offer and teach to the outside, waste it on one single colony and their rules and regulations. Why, when there’s so much talent within the colony would nat geo choose a colony whose members use derogatory language.
    The description of the different sects and their dress styles that were pointed out were incorrect. I was looking forward to watching the documentary and finally seeing an explanation for the lifestyle that so many people outside search an explanation for. I am so disappointed!

  10. Terri
    May 31, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I just watched the first episode. I love Ms Bertha. She is the greatest parent. Hang in there Mrs Bertha your true patience as a parent will pay great dividends.

  11. Sandra
    United States
    May 31, 2012, 11:45 pm

    I love this show and have seen the first episode twice. The people are interesting and seeing them in their element was instructive. I am sorry that others wanted this to be some sort of an expose’ or were looking forward to a negative portrayal, and am so glad that it is not. Good work Nat’l Geo.

  12. chris
    June 3, 2012, 8:54 pm

    i thought this show was fake i did not like it at all

  13. Michelle
    June 4, 2012, 7:52 pm

    Up until I had watched this show I had never known of the Hutterites. I enjoy watching and look forward to learning more about this group of people.

  14. Gail
    North Dakota
    June 5, 2012, 12:19 pm

    In a way I envy the Hutterites. They have the type of cohesive, supportive community structure that much of America enjoyed 100 years ago. However, if they want their members to stay with the colony, I think they should make a few concessions to the modern world. It’s not fun to be a part of something (the colony, for example) when membership is forced. I feel that the younger people would be much more content if they were allowed to finish high school and see the modern world. I think that most of them would choose to remain with the colony, but they would feel that they had made their own choice.

  15. Chris
    June 5, 2012, 10:28 pm

    They shunned Ms. Bertha for sending her son to school and allowing him to play sports because they are afraid these kids will become to smart for the colony & leave. So instead we make reality stars of them. This is better – how??

  16. J K
    June 6, 2012, 12:34 am

    People should realize that Hutterites 150 years ago and up until the late 1950’s were ahead of the curve.
    Their farming practices and communities were advanced technologically. They started to fall behind the curve when the electronic revolution started hitting the mainstream and the super highways opened up the country.
    They need to regain their advantage through communal education.

  17. Cary Williams
    June 6, 2012, 9:35 am

    I absolutely am obsessed with this show. I feel so bad for Bertha when she got shunned. It’s a horrible aspect of these sects to just get rid of you when you don’t tow the line. I just wanted to reach thru the tv and hold her hand and hug her. I applaud Carver and Anthony for having the maturity the realize the consequences of their to Rita and Bertha. I think the boys love the colony and understand their purpose. I love Bertha and what she stands for. Hugs and love to all. Claudia quit hurting your mother and making her worry about you.

  18. Barry
    Boca Raton, FL
    June 6, 2012, 10:06 am

    How long was Bertha actually shunned before she asked and was granted forgiveness? I really enjoy this program.

  19. dyna
    June 6, 2012, 10:33 am

    i love the show but it did seem kinda fake but i will continue to watch it

  20. Jan
    June 6, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Too staged and too many whiners. It was impossible to identify with any of the cast as all they did was complain, whine, complain.

  21. Kim
    June 6, 2012, 1:41 pm

    All I have to say is “Go Bertha” and totally agree that she deserves a fan page. Wish I could write to her but I doubt they allow that.

  22. Lynn
    June 6, 2012, 6:36 pm

    I too am disappointed that Nat Geo would make life on the colony into a “reality” show. This colony is in my community and I know many of the members. Sadly, you are seeing some staged and scripted moments. I will pass on your “Go Bertha” comments to Bertha! She IS a kick, a hard worker and a good friend. She would be greatly humbled by your support.

  23. Debbie Wollman
    Roundp MOntana
    June 6, 2012, 7:19 pm

    Last night’s episode of the shunning is exactly how it happens, I know Bertha personally , I am proud of her for being able to share her heart..I am an exhutterite and love the show, alot of it is staged but it is all true so far..I grew up with these people, went to school with them…Looking forward to the next one..

  24. Dutch
    June 6, 2012, 7:46 pm

    Boy are things different in the colony from when the Article was in Nat Geo magazine in 1970. Back then the kids were moved aside to play because their laughing and screaming was considered inappropriate. Mrs. Bertha and Mrs. Rita love their kids and want what’s best for them. You go, Mrs. Bertha. Please do not blame yourself for your husband committing suicide.

  25. Dutch
    June 6, 2012, 7:49 pm

    PS: the control the elders use to make members behave is typical of every religion. Which is why I have none.

  26. Sonny
    June 6, 2012, 9:29 pm

    Not one, but ALL clips of this lost colony are simply disgraceful, disrespectful and pitiful! Where did these people grow up? Certainly not in a true Christian Hutterite community. There’s the evident and clear living proof of ‘wordly’ influence. As touchy and sensitive as it might be to some outsiders being stated as ‘wordly’, go visit a well-grounded Hutterite colony and you will see how damaging and destructive ‘worldy’ influence has been to this King colony. This is obviously the result of having no moral and godly backbone. Anyone watching these ‘acted’ misleading clips, PLEASE don’t assume this as a true portrayal of the Hutterian Church. For accurate information on the Hutterian Church visit
    Der böse Feind wird sich die Faust voll-lachen! Lucifer will laugh his fist full!
    Education???? What is the use of ANY super-duper education if the Christian morals and foundation are lacking? It’s like owning a truck load of gold. Will the earthly gold safe your life if you had a fatal heart attack? Education can be a very powerful tool, but without a Christian foundation, what will it really do for you in the end? In the ultimate end when it will REALYY matter! Yes, education is a good blessing, but obtaining it through aggressiveness and against the blessings and approval of the church will only bring regretful consequences.
    By the way, Hutterites DO get their education. Read the ‘education’ tag on The biggest struggle with Bertha and hers is rebellion, disrespect and self-will. If they would be sincere Christian links of their church, they would not run full speed into the gates of Sodom and Gomorra. One wonders if they ever ask themselves the question, “What would Jesus do?”

  27. Laura
    staten island
    June 7, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I love love love Bertha.. she is such a wonderful mother.. and cute as a button , and funny… go get em bertha…!!!

  28. abdul mannan
    June 8, 2012, 12:19 am

    PS: the control the elders use to make members behave is typical of every religion. Which is why I have none.

  29. Shaughnessy
    June 8, 2012, 1:00 am

    I find this absolutely ridiculous. Is the American public being punked by this bunk? I can’t believe there’s any truth to this show. They sound so scripted, and totally kindergarten.
    They stake their claim to be called “American’s” and protected under the laws of our nation. They pay no taxes, they shed no blood for the freedom they take. Yet lay claim to religious freedom…?
    Then live no different than the godless man next door, who lives his life with more honor than these people.
    Does anyone else find these people two-faced. Who break every law of the bible and claim to be christians?
    They swear, they drink themselves into a stupor, gossip about everybody and everything, judge all, and the men rule with an iron hand. (completely against what Jesus spoke to men. To cleave to his wife from his side. Jesus said God didn’t take woman from his feet to be trampled upon, HE didn’t take woman from his head to be “ruled” over, but his side, HE created her for him to hold unto himself, without the heart man can’t live, so he was to minister to his wife from HIS heart because God’s heart for humanity…and stuff). Notice “minister” as opposed to “rule”.
    These people don’t practice what they preach! Therefore they are not a religious organization and not protected under the right to religious belief AND the perks that go with it.
    Did anyone else see that man from the colony when that girl was seen in the beer tent? He tells her to go home, and pulls up a chair. He just violated her right to a peaceable assembly!! Egghead!
    I HATE double standards.

  30. Shaughnessy
    June 8, 2012, 1:06 am

    The spouse who committed suicide? Why? Why was there such dispair in his life that he couldn’t keep going?
    Is suicide a common place in the Hutterite cult? I say cult, because their religion does not line up with what American laws describe a religious belief must be to qualify.
    Looks like to me the men are the only ones who benefit from this “way of life”.
    Make your children afraid of shame so much that they stay and take care of the older ones when they can’t do the work any more. Sounds like slavery to me.

  31. Shaughnessy
    June 8, 2012, 1:12 am

    Oh yeah, my favorites:
    Ipods, laptops, nice new vehicles, tvs, computer games and wiis. I thought they were to separate themselves from the mainstream folks like us because we’ll influence them to sin.
    And another questions:
    Why aren’t the “men” of this cult taking care of the widows and orphans like the bible says for us to do? If this woman’s kids are so rebellious, why aren’t the men mentoring these teen boys & girls?
    (girls need their daddies too!)
    I’m not seeing the old farts (elders) working. So far I just see the teens doing all the work.

  32. mld
    E.Meadow, NY
    June 8, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I enjoy the show so much, Love Berthe and her family, she is the star. I don’t believe that she is acting and using script because that would mean that she was an unbelievable actress. She seems too honest and real, she is trying to balance her place within the colony with wanting her children to be happy – a rock and a hard place

  33. Misty
    Garland, TX
    June 8, 2012, 4:05 pm

    I too am curious as to the circumstances surrounding the husband’s suicide. I enjoy this show and learning about other cultures and beliefs – I am sociology addict, sort to speak. I do feel its a bit forced on the kids, explaining they cannot attend public high school because they might get too smart and leave. I would think they would encourage higher education to bring about doctors, scientists, ect to create a more evolved community that the believers would never want to leave, and possibly bring in fresh lineages. If they can’t date outside the colony, but are pretty much all related, how does that work? You would think if they were so steadfast with their beliefs they would encourage others to join and grow the community. I can understand not needing a higher education if the job they choose to do for life is one of manual labor, like farming or ranching, but for those who choose something else, higher education would only seem to benefit the community. Then again, I am merely an outsider looking in 🙂 All in all, I adore this show, as well as Amish Out of Order, and many other NatGeo originals! Keep them coming!

  34. Cathy Kremer
    San Antonio, Texas
    June 8, 2012, 6:40 pm

    I just watched this show and I love Bertha and Rita. Education is so important. Claudia is great as well. The men need to loosen up a bit. I wish the “elders” in their wisdom would see that education is so so important. Isn’t the law that your kids have to go to school? I feel for the boys who dropped out of high school to help their mothers. I come from a pretty stiff religious background as well so I can understand some of the issues. Bertha, Claudia and Rita are so strong, I like that Bertha had the gumption to go color her hair. Great show. Keep great shows like this one coming. And I pray that the boys get back to school, and the sports that they love so much.

  35. CathyK
    San Antonio, Texas
    June 8, 2012, 6:47 pm

    @ Lynn, Please tell Mrs. Bertha Hofer .. We Love Her!
    She is great and she has a lot of folks rooting for her! She is a very wise woman to know that education is important. She is a very strong woman and a great example. God Bless her with all her heartache she has had to endured! We do need a fan page for Bertha and @ Sonny whoa… really I mean really? Do you realize it is 2012? And you know there is a great word called ” balance” . Wow… your comments are trippy!

  36. Mary S
    Natick ,Massachusetts
    June 13, 2012, 12:28 am

    Cheese and crackers, I really like this show.

  37. Kelsea S
    Columbia, SC
    June 14, 2012, 6:00 pm

    I love bertha!!! she is such a good mom and really is trying to do her best. I also really respect her daughter Claudia and her son Carver. Clinton needs to be smacked but the other two are great.

  38. nancy carroll
    chesapeake, virginia
    June 19, 2012, 10:28 pm

    tonight i watched as the women realized that maybe the division of the sexes could be relaxed a little bit . i want to say to bertha and rita as well as claudia and lisa that the men are very hardnosed and try to keep to the time honored traditions . instead of you ladies getting into verbal altercations and being so confrontational, remember, you are the cooks and chore doers and just think how the men would be maybe not so stubborn if their meals were less delicious or the chores took longer to do than usual. we ladies don’t realize it is we who have the power and we can change the fate of the world. i love you all and wish you the best.

  39. Bruce
    June 20, 2012, 3:04 am

    Shaughnessy you are a Genius!

  40. Dorothy
    June 20, 2012, 10:40 am

    I wonder if these Hutterites of King Colony in Montana are in hot water. I know the bishops are highly displeased, and feel betryaed, by reading other articles about this show.

    These Hutterites surprised me with their swearing and drinking. I thought they would be very strict. I also wonder if this is not so real…but staged.

    I think by not allowing higher education, the Hutterite leadership wants to control their members and not lose them (which I think is pitiful).

    It is just like my mom who couldn’t go to a wedding if it wasn’t Catholic. Why? Were they afraid they would all leave? And my mom is the oldest of 13 kids. The church had its hand in that, too.

    Poor Bertha may lose her sons to the outside world. If she was kicked out of the church, what would she do? She has no job skills–other than cooking. This life is all she has ever known, and she is terrified to lose it.

  41. Diane
    June 21, 2012, 8:53 pm

    Claudia should escape. Living like these people would be hell on Earth. I’d kill myself before putting up with the vile men in this group.

  42. Jennifer
    June 23, 2012, 10:57 am

    These people have too small a gene pool. They all look alike. Not a good thing.

  43. BessiB
    June 26, 2012, 11:05 pm

    I’m obsessed with this show!

  44. Russell Schiwal
    Camarillo, CA
    June 27, 2012, 1:44 am

    I’ve been their neighbor for three years in the past; living opposite the train trestle. I love the concept, but the “reality” show format cheapens these people. a regular documentary without contrived drama would have served much better. They seem to be acting for the camera and they’re not actors.

  45. Sara pinkerton
    Elizabethtown pa
    June 27, 2012, 9:54 pm

    I love the hutterites,they are very interesting an entertaining. I would love to meet them. Hope the show stays on for a long time.

  46. D Locke
    Petal, MS
    June 28, 2012, 10:45 am

    Who cares if it is somewhat scripted. I learn something new on each episode! The ducks, ewww. Soap, ewww. I had no idea that if you beat the mess out of a cow to get as much blood out that-that would make the meat better… So thanks for teaching me things… 🙂
    Bertha, I absolutly adore you. I am truly sorry for the loss of your husband and to Claudia and the boys, keep respecting your mother. I hope teens are watching this show so that they may learn something about respecting parents and adults!

  47. ron neumann
    June 29, 2012, 2:36 pm

    is thhis colony the one located near great falls.

  48. donna jean jones
    July 10, 2012, 10:30 pm

    THE MEN NEED TO STOP DRINKING BEER an smoking it a sin ,dont be a hypocrite.

  49. Amanda Crowell
    Ada, Ok USA
    July 10, 2012, 11:20 pm

    I like the idea of everyone sharing and helping each other. I wouldnt want to give up any of my “English” habits but if more people lived and cooperated and cared for each other like they do. The world would be a better place.

  50. Nicole
    July 10, 2012, 11:56 pm

    I love the show…i never heard of this religon before and love the unity….i did not feel it was fake or stage….i love how the express themselves….i am a 30 yr old black woman…..all my associate watch the show….are their any blak people in the colonies……………i hope this show is here to stay

  51. Kelly
    July 18, 2012, 11:05 pm

    Mrs. Bertha Hofer we love you!

  52. Evanne
    July 22, 2012, 2:55 pm

    I am completely hooked on this show. Yes some of it looks a bit contrived but it is still entertaining and has introduced me to a culture I knew nothing about. I envy anyone with such strong tradition in their lives as well as an extended family to take care of one another. I look forward to watching the complete series.

  53. Jennifer
    July 26, 2012, 10:55 am

    I stumbled upon this show accidentally a couple of weeks ago and I am totally hooked on it! I have caught up on all the episodes and I have to say that I really enjoy watching this show. I had never even heard of the Hutterites before this series and now I know that they do exist and know some about the way they live thier lives. I see that there are a lot of nay-sayers about this show but i don’t care….it may be a bit staged or scripted but that they can live together like that and work so hard (that’s NOT scripted) is admirable at the very least. They just seem like regular people – the drinking and swearing is something that goes on in EVERY community. I hope Claudia has the fortitude to pursue her dreams and I really like Mrs. Bertha – she’s a tough cookie and I wouldn’t want to mess with her! 🙂 Good luck Hutterites!

  54. Brenda R.
    July 26, 2012, 9:28 pm

    I LOVE Bertha Hofer! I would love to be her daughter. Having recently lost my own mother, she just reminds me of her. I realize that her own children may not be as respectful because they are young, but they should truly cherish every day that they have her. I think the show may be ‘edited’ for ‘watchability’, like any other ‘reality’ program. Hopefully the bishops take that into consideration when choosing to dish out consequences to their members.

  55. Lee
    July 27, 2012, 11:09 pm

    I really like Bertha.
    I have only seen a few episodes of the show,so I missed her being shunned.
    It upsets me that she was because she wanted her child to have an education.
    Some have been hard on Claudia,she is just being a typical 18 yr old.
    She wants more out of life than the drudgery of being just a housewife someday. Why does that make her bad in the eyes of a Non Hutterite?

  56. cora oakes ginnaty
    tracy montana
    August 10, 2012, 9:22 pm

    James, they do all these things and then some. They exist in colonies because it’s a tax write off for all of their vehicles and houses and you name it.

  57. L Ybarra
    ordway co
    September 2, 2012, 8:13 pm

    I love the show, i think its an eye opener for all who believe that only certain cultures exist. I love the openess and honesty the shows portrays. I love the brothers on the show Marvin (money boss) and Toby (cattle boss) they are hard workers and believe in their way of life. I love Claudia for her strength and Bertha for her way of understanding. Keep the show going.!!!

  58. jose
    September 28, 2012, 3:07 am

    I really enjoyed this show even though it seemed scripted at times. I have heard that many people from the colony were upset about the footage National Geographic played on the TV, but do not understand why. I really don’t think that Nat. Geo. forced them to do anything, and if something filmed was against their beliefs then why agree to act in that way? Maybe, I just don’t know how filming works, but it just seems weird when people are surprised/ angry about what is shown when they were actively participating with the filming.

  59. Audrey
    September 28, 2012, 10:03 pm

    Hutterites have been drinking and smoking for years. When I was kid my mom worked in on of our local pubs, 40+ years ago and they always went to the pub on their weekly trips to town. And when you went to colony to visit, you were always offered a glass of homemade wine. And I love this show, just wish I had found it earlier. I need to find the first episodes. Love Claudia, Bertha and Wesley.

  60. Ken
    November 5, 2012, 7:02 pm

    This is the best show on TV! Shows we all experience the same issues regardless of our beliefs. Claudia and Wes are great people. I love these folks!

  61. JohnBoy TN
    SE TN
    January 5, 2013, 2:54 pm

    Awesome show. Watched my first show today now I cant drag myself away from the TV. Bertha rocks, Wes is cool, and Claudia is Hot!! Best of Luck Ya’ll.

  62. sam chase
    February 24, 2013, 2:08 pm

    this is so ridiculous! i want my lost hours of life back-sooo uninteresting and boring….am THRILLED there wont be another season!!!! what a load of CRAP!!!!

  63. sam chase
    March 25, 2013, 11:20 am

    when will this crap be canned???? i want to see something worthy of my time and nat geo!!!!!

  64. Phil Billigmeier
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    March 26, 2013, 8:55 am

    Wesley, please send me your jerky receipe, I eat alot of the same foods that you do and would really appreciate it. I noticed that if your in-laws have to sabotage your jerky, then I want some. Thank You, Phil

  65. backlink software Trial
    October 15, 2013, 8:28 am

    As long as SEO Tools go there is next to nothing as simple or even effective as No Hands SEO, leverage back-links from over 60 different platforms to get better search engine rankings and much more traffic.