I've been to two distinctly different Amish settlements in Montana: Rexford and St. Ignatius.
Rexford is rural, remote, relatively small and Old Order. The Amish settlement in St. Ignatius is New Order, less remote and more sprawling. Two church districts spread out along the base of the Mission Mountains and, interestingly, this is the only Amish community in the USA located on tribal lands. The Amish settlement is on the Flathead Indian Reservation, more formally known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation. I will have more to say in a future post about the state of Amish and Native relations. There has been some friction. The Amish-Indian angle is a topic I explore a lot in my upcoming book, Amish Cooks Across America.
The first thing that strikes a visitor to the St. Ignatius settlement is the beauty. Rexford is gorgeous, but you're sort of lacking much of a view from where the settlement sits (I did visit one Amish home half way up a mountain in Rexford and the view from there was stunning). So if I had to award a prize for beauty, I think St. Ignatius would edge out Rexford. Stunning vistas of the Mission Mountains are a constant. This is a view from the parking lot of the Amish-owned Mission General Store. Stay tuned in the near future for more amazing images, but this just isn't something you often see: buggies in a parking lot with 10,000 foot mountains in the background. Most of the Amish homes are wedged right up against the base of the mountains which rise dramatically from the valley floor.
The Mission General store was started from an Amish family from Indiana and it really resembles many of the other Amish-owned stores I've visited in the midwest: bulk foods and baked goods.
How is it that the Amish are allowed to live on Indian land? Did they have to get permission from the tribe to move there?
Super question, Wendy! I will explain more sometime, but this goes back deep into tribal history and broken treaties with the US government....there's a lot of bitterness. At some point the Homestead Act allowed non-Natives to buy up gobs of Tribal land...long after that act was repealed there is still a lot of land in non-Tribal hands, and that is who the Amish bought the land from in the first place...that is the short answer!
What is the difference between old and new order Amish?
Leslie - Thanks for stopping by! The New Order Amish are not, as the name might suggest, necessarily more liberal than the Old Order. Both orders use horse and buggy, practice home worship, and don't have electric. One of the biggest differences I find is that the New Order are more evangelical than the Old Order. They'll also hold Sunday school and Bible study, whereas the Old Orders won't...and there are more wholesome and organized youth activities, such as camping outings, etc...Those are some of the key differences, you couldn't generally tell the difference in New Order and Old by appearance alone - Kevin
What a beautiful pictures with flat land and then the mountain. Bet it's beautiful if you seen it in person.
Joseph P. Goodwin
I'm a bit confused (and a lot curious).
Are the two communities you mention Rexford and St. Ignatius? Or is St. Ignatius the region? And if St. Ignatius is one of the communities, was the name pre-existing? If not, is it unusual for Amish communities to use the names of Catholic saints?
Hi, Joe - the two names are communities. For the Amish they really are merely postal addresses...St. Ignatius had been around long before the Amish arrived...pretty common for Catholic missionaries to operated on Native lands, so the name is attached to that history, the Amish just moved there and claim it as their address.- Kevin
Do any of the Amish families at St Ignatius have guest cottages where a person might lodge for a few days. I have studied Amish culture for years but never been able to visit a community. This one is close enough I would like to make a visit.
Susan, I don't know of any Amish-run B & B's , for instance, in St Ignatius, there are a couple of non-Amish lodging options in the area (email me at [email protected] if you want specifics)