The Hutterites, the only prairie community to have maintained its communal ideal, are members of an Anabaptist sect named after its first leader, Jacob Hutter. Originating in sixteenth-century central Europe (Tyrol and Moravia), they gradually moved east, ending up in Russia, which they abandoned for South Dakota in the 1870s. It was fifty years before they felt obliged to move again, when during World War I the community’s pacifism was in direct opposition to the military fervour that gripped the US. They moved north between 1918 and 1922, and established a series of colonies where they were allowed to educate their children, speak their own language and avoid military service. In these largely self-sufficient communities tasks are still divided according to ability and skill, property is owned communally, and social life organized around a common dining room and dormitories. Economically prosperous, they continue to grow, and a new branch community is founded whenever the old one reaches a secure population of between one and two hundred. Apart from the occasional disagreement with the outside world when they buy new land, the Hutterites have been left in peace and have resisted assimilation pressures more staunchly than their kindred spirits, the Mennonites and the Doukhobors.

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