The Amish communities around the midwest are some of the largest in the country. Pennsylvania has the Lion's share with an estimated 89,000 living in the state, and Michigan is sixth with a little more than 18,000 living within our borders.

They're a good, hard working people, of course, and like to keep to themselves mostly. However, there will be instances, if you're near an Amish Community, where you may have to interact with someone from the Faith. So what are the protocols?

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Michigan has more than 86 Amish churches, scattered across 35 different settlements. Three of the most prominent are in Hillsdale and Branch counties in the southern part of the state, and Mackinac County in the Upper Peninsula.

However, the largest, and oldest settlement can be found in Centreville, in St. Joseph County, settled in 1910.

So it's entirely possible, at some point living in Michigan, you'll run into an Amish community. But they clearly live their lives differently than we do. Not to be confused with Mennonites, the Amish shun all forms of technology and modern vices. Their lifestyles are clearly, quite different from ours.

So, how do we interact with them, without insulting, or offending them?

Michigan Amish

The Do's and Don'ts Of Interacting With Michigan Amish

DO NOT - Stare or point. Yes, they're different, but they're also still people, and should be treated as such - not like some zoo animal.

DO - Keep an eye out for buggies and horses. Most areas near Amish Communities are clearly marked, but if you know you're even remotely close, it's good to just be aware. The last thing you want to do is spook a horse on the side of the road, AND ABSOLUTELY DO NOT honk your horn at them. Be patient.

DO - Feel Free to stop at an Amish home if they are inviting you in. Sometimes the Amish make baked cooks, canned items, and other foods that they sell to make money, and survive. And more often than not, it's even better than anything you'd get at the store.

DO NOT - Enter private property without permission. This is true for anyone, but just because they don't have security systems, lights, or any other technology, doesn't give you the right to trespass.

DO NOT - Take their photo. The Amish do not pose for photographs and videos, however some will if asked nicely. In fact, before taking any photo of a buggy, of them, or of their property, it's best to ask permission. The answer might be no, but it is respectful.

DO NOT - Feed their horses. Even if you see them alone, tied to a post or hitching rail, or even attached to a buggy. The Amish (typically) take very good care of their animals, and have strict diets for them. Also, if you feel so inclined, and want to pet their horses, DO ask permission first.

And finally...

DO - Respect their privacy. They are a peaceful group, and for the most part just want to be left to their own devices. However, there may be times where you have to communicate, or interact with the Amish. In those cases, it's often more acceptable to speak with the men first.

These are the best tips we can give, but the bottom line is, if you even have a slight question as to whether you might offend them or not, just ask. They know we're curious, and they're happy to teach us about their way of life, so long as we respect it.

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