By Adam Houseman
Hutterites are hard workers. It is not uncommon for them to work 18-hour days.
"Everyone has their responsibilities," said Joe Waldner, a German teacher at East End. "If you work hard, at the end of the day it gives you a little courage, it makes you feel better."
Children at East End start their days with German school from 7 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. Waldner says they learn German because "it is important to keep our mother tongue, and continue our culture." The children are busy with classes in English, then another short German class and a service until 6 p.m., with a few breaks throughout the day. After the service the children eat dinner and go home to study the day's lessons with their parents for an additional hour or sometimes two.
School is very important at East End because, according to Waldner, "if you're not educated, it shows wherever you go."
Children attend school through the age of 14 and then usually begin a job, such as working with the cows, pigs or chickens. Children also may work with the mechanics, electricians or blacksmiths. "Each boy has his own responsibility, a place to contribute to the community," said Waldner. "Keeping the kids busy keeps them out of mischief."
Waldner also said the children do not need to go all the way through twelfth grade because "the best experience they can get is right in the field doing what they are going to do."
Hutterites avoid going to public school because, when they have tried it before, the children were afraid of the people in town, he said.
Sometimes when he takes the children to town, people throw eggs at them or make crude remarks.
"The best place to educate is somewhere where they are not scared," Waldner said. "For us, that place is right here."
Generally, women at East End are responsible for cooking, cleaning and housework. However, according to Waldner, the women are welcome to help the men with their duties and "they have our respect and a say-so in everything."
Sometimes boys in the colony decide they want to move away and live somewhere else. But, Waldner said, most of them return to be a part of the community again. He thinks the boys return because they realize they have explored the world, and that making a living outside the colony takes hard work just as it does as part of the colony.
Everybody at the colony wears traditional clothing.
Like the Amish and the Mennonites, the ancestry of the Hutterites originated in Germany and Russia. They started migrating to North America several hundred years ago.
Bob Ward of Havre travels nearly 25 miles from Havre to the colony every weekday to teach classes in English to the children. He says the experience has been wonderful and that he has learned a great deal about Hutterite culture.
East End Hutterites are very compassionate and welcoming, he said.
"We feel welcome here in Montana," Waldner said. "And people should feel welcome to visit us and learn about our culture. We will never refuse anybody's desire to come visit and learn."
Havre Daily News photojournalist Adam Houseman visited East End Colony eight times over a period of two months. Here are some of his thoughts about his experience.
Every time I made the half-hour commute to the colony, I was welcomed with a smile and invited to dinner or lunch. During my time there I witnessed a community that knows how to support itself, work hard and persevere. I witnessed a community that does not care to acknowledge the stereotypes and rude comments thrown its way by uneducated people. I experienced a community that embraces the true meanings of family, love and compassion. Most of all, I felt as if I was part of something special.