Date of this Version
Great Plains Research Vol. 21, No. 2, 2011
Joanita Kant's Gentle People is an excellent case study of South Dakota's Rockport Hutterite Colony. The book includes in-depth description and analysis of the lifestyle of Rockport Colony residents and covers people of all ages and interests. There are numerous helpful photographs, both contemporary and historical. Members of the Rockport Colony belong to a religious society that has practiced "community of goods" for nearly five centuries. The book not only introduces the reader to the deep-seated beliefs and practices of members, but also provides important sociological analysis supported by helpful figures and maps, including population pyramids, floor plans, and colony branching charts. The Hutterites have indeed created an important alternative and communitarian society, which citizens of the modern world might learn much from, especially in terms of economy of scale and conflict management. Kant gives us a good picture of how different life is in a small community where residents are tied to each other by social, economic, and religious bonds. Her book, however, also contains an abundance of factual errors, which greater attention to secondary sources might have forestalled.