Hutterites of South Dakota: The Schmiedleleut

By Joanita Kant

Llumnina Press, Coral Gables, Florida, 2006, 254 pages, softcover

This is the best book I have read dealing with any ethnic group in this case the Hutterites of South Dakota. As a native-born South Dakotan, deeply involved for many years in the educational, cultural, and political life of the state, I supposed that I knew well the Hutterite community. But Joanita Kant, by means of brilliant photography, careful research, and excellent historical writing, opens our eyes and warms our spirits with a fascinating up-to-date tour of the religious, economic, cultural, and societal treasure of the unique Hutterite way of life.... If a reader is looking for a dramatic, carefully written, beautifully illustrated story of one of the most fascinating ethnic groups in American history, this is the book to read. We will not soon see its equal.

--- Former United States Senator George McGovern, South Dakota

Hutterites of South Dakota is an unprecedented pictorial review of their lifestyle in 44 of 53 colonies in the state during all four seasons of 2004. Three branches of Hutterites came to southeastern Dakota Territory (today South Dakota) in the 1870s from Ukraine, Russia. As always, since their founding in central Europe in 1528, they were escaping religious persecution. Although there are three divisions of ethnic Hutterites, namely Schmiedeleut, Dariusleut, and Lehrerleut, only Schmiedeleut remain in South Dakota, which has more Hutterites than any state in the USA.

In the Foreword, the author writes: "South Dakota is particularly important to the more than 45,000 Hutterites in North America because it was where their ancestors established three founding mother colonies, one for each leut, upon arrive in North America. All ethnic Hutterites descend from those founding colonies." To obtain photos and information for this book, I visited 45 of the 53 Schmiedeleut Hutterite colonies in South Dakota throughout 2004."

Minister Jacob Waldner with Jeanette Waldner, Geneva Hofer, and Jolene Waldner-- new kitchen-church building in background.
Flower garden

About the author

An honors graduate of the University of South Dakota, Joanita Kant has been a museum director, historical preservationist, author, and humanities speaker in the state. She currently resides in Watertown.

Hutterites of South Dakota

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