Twelve Tribes Communities. A warning [from a fellow traveler]


From Vagabond, posted on 25 of January 2016

So mainly in the northeast but also in Tennessee, Georgia, and even Europe there’s this group they call themselves the 12 tribes. They are really really (like freakishly) nice to travelers, and recruit them for the communities. Basically they invited you back to the compound, and make it increasingly harder and harder to leave. Nobody is ever forcing you, but the promise of food for the day, weed to smoke (even tho i came to find out that its just something to keep people around, none of the people in the church actually smoke pot) and a little bit of cash is enough sometimes to deal with the weirdness. But then things get weirder. I’ve had friends told me that they were offered peoples daughters as wives. In most places where they have a community they also have a deli/coffee shop/something like that. At these restaurants the wives do all of the cooking, cleaning, and general work while the husbands are talking to customers and recruiting. They have zines that are directed at punk youth, which bad brains, the misfits and black flag logos on the front but you open it up and its all about their fucking weird religion. I just wanted to put a warning out there for people who don’t know who they are (i sure as shit didn’t until we got to Vermont and these dudes were everywhere!) Eat the food they give you, go to the deli’s and hang out or whatever, but do your research too, these guys are fucking wacky.

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Holy shit, cant believe it took me so long to do what you did! I was at one of their places by accident a couple years ago, in northern spain. its true that they are very welcoming at first and make anything in their power to keep you. But as days go by, they really push you to your limits with some obviously studied psy-tricks, I remember feeling so confused on matters that I would normally consider hilarious bullshit (I even have the theory that maybe they put stuff in our food, as it was very strange mental confusion). Also the whole tribe starts getting creepier and creepier as you notice more strange stuff. I remember them always cooking extra food for “the other ones” and when asked about them they said that they where away because they where sick. Somehow and in the way they always talked about them gave me the creeps. Mine is a long long storie of crazy things, I was there for about a week and a half waiting for a mechanic to call me and get the fuck out of there. In that week they traumatized me and a couple friends very deeply (im serious).

So its great to give this warning, I agree 100% with what you say, specially how they target punks and hippies with bullshit propaganda.

Also good to know, they openly punish their children in brutal ways, there has been some scandals in france and germany, and recently (not sure if just because of that) they have been banned from Germany.

Simply avoid them, its not worth the risk.


How did they traumatize you? What were some of their tricks?


I remember my heart going really fast when I saw people with beards and looking like them (we were parking close to their place for another week after we left). Also, my friends and I couldn’t stop singing their stupid songs until a point of madness. It took us a very long time before we could let the whole experience go.

I guess one of the strongest points was that you are never alone, they usually take the group apart (if you come as a group, if you go there alone I guess you are easy prey), then you get some of them with you who will go on talking to you to know what are you up to and always trying to get you to their beliefs (but nice and easy at first). Once you get really tired of that person, it will go away and a new one will come and continue. After a while you realize that they are talking to each other because each new person who came knew what you said to the previous people, not like they will say it but their conversation would reveal that they know. After some time, I guess when they have enough information about you, the friendly conversations of “this is what you believe and this is what I believe” turn into personal attacks, new people would come and say things like “ohh, I was a hobo who loved to hop freight trains and travel around the world and -life copied from you- but I realized that the 12 tribes is the only way” (of course in a more complex way). This progression will escalate more and more while you are unable to stop to think, because there is always someone talking to you or you are listening to some speech, sermon or person talking on the subject. Also, in the whole week and half I was there, it was almost impossible for me to talk to any of my friends. Only once I had a chance when I went to change clothes for some work I had to do and I found my friend in my room who was ready to tell me how many weird experiences he was having (we have not talked at all before, at least not alone). After talking briefly about weird shit and people, we left the room and I had the feeling that all that I had said was heard, since I criticized some specific people for being very rude (one guy attacked me verbally but quite harsh and one woman would not shut up about Joshua, stuff like that) then, those specific people came to apologize for their behavior, exactly as I complained to my friend, which made me think that we where listened to.

I know it sounds crazy, but what traumatized me was a great feeling of having been part of some sort of bizarre experiment that might have had some negative consequences (like joining them!). Also it made me very paranoid about any sort of group that had a religious belief of any kind and stuff like that.

I guess I cannot explain myself right now as im very tired and its a long long story that would make sense if I took a big effort to write it properly… I guess that’s why so far I only told people by talking and didn’t do what OP just did because I felt that to give me credibility I had to work the story properly. Now that I see somebody Else’s opinion, then I go for it as it comes out.


I’d really love to read more of this when you have the time; I find it really fascinating. I stayed at a 12 tribes hostel in Rutland, VT when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and it was kind of creepy. It’s a nice hostel/restaurant with good food, but yeah it was kind of creepy when guys would come and try to talk to you about your beliefs. Fortunately hikers on the AT watch out for each other and tend to be pretty mobile; I don’t think they do very well converting them.


Oh man, I stayed there. Calling them creepy is being kind to them and unfair to the creepy.


I find this sort of thing morbidly fascinating, and I’m honestly tempted to go experience it for myself (but only if I have reliable transportation ready for whenever I wish to leave)


Was this on the path of the camino de santiago? Stayed at a community much like this for a couple days, without the child abuse though.



They have a very nice place that you get when you walk trough Camino de Santiago, is the one with the Yurts and lots of coffee and nice people. I met two friends that walked the path and got there, later on they tell you that there is a better place close by and take you to another place which is a bit far and in the middle of nowhere, where they are not so nice, coffee and many other things are banned, etc. That’s where things got creepier. I guess they have the “Honeypot front place” and the “Brainwash back place”. By the way, child abuse is not something you will see, but child’s are very afraid and obedient. But its not a rumor, if you read and talk to them, they are very open that punishing child’s for the least of their misbehavior is a righteous thing to do.


Yeah dude! Wow, whack… Had a great meal there though before I decided to head on.


I’ve heard theirs something in their mineral water that makes you a homebum


Where in VT? I think i came across these people before, they looked like hippies but werent…


Yeah that sounds like them. They’ve got communities in middlebury, Rutland, Brattleboro, and island pond. Maybe St. Albans too


Vermont is the perfect place for them. Super small, very accepting.


Yep Vermont, Chattanooga, and Ithaca is where they are most prevalent. Makes sense


Exactly. Extremely tolerant places like asheville, etc; it is their weakness and sinister characters go to these places where people are more easily exploited and vulnerable. Folks in the midwest take a firmer stance and are sometimes rightfully wary of outsiders.


I think they have a place in manitou springs in colorado. The Yerba mate coffee shop. They were really generous and always wanted me to come to their compound to eat dinner on Fridays and the whole thing just seemed a little off to me. I’ve heard the rumors that they make you give them all your money and they give you a wife in return. Weird people but I doubt their dangerous.


Yes they do. I used to live there and helped a guy, “escape”. He seemed creeped the fuck out, had lived there a few months. Said they marry off 12 year olds to adult men… because they do that in the bible… dogs are passionately banned because they are promiscuous and naked other weird shit.
I was yelling at debating them at a dead show in LA and mentioned the witness I had helped escape … they knew his name and were very sinister-eyed interested in where he might be now.


They are also vehement white-supremacists.


hmmm… you know, I’ve never seen a colored one among them…


They would probably try to kick my ass because I am Jewish.


That or like you cause jesus was jewish… or god’s chosen people after the rapture jazz… i dunno… you should try :D


They also hate Jews. I have my own faith community to rely upon that isn’t a violent cult that beats children.


Well since we’re on the topic, I’m an Evangelical Atheist.


Spread the good word to the people brother!


I’ll never stop believing in nothing.


Eh, they advocate beating your wife and kids to keep them in line, so they’re somewhat dangerous (to the women and children in the community).

They had a restaurant in my college town. It was seriously every student’s favorite place, because it was open 24/7 except for the Sabbath (around noon on Friday until 2 or 3 on Sunday) and the food was to die for. Everyone felt really awkward supporting their creepy ass religion with our money, but damn was the food good. I tried to stop going as much once I found out about the beating stuff.


please tell me this is my college lol


They’re also at any Dead shows and will ask you to sign over your personal belongings to them. Not sure how they still exist but my friend also had a horrifying encounter with these evil fucks.


Worse, they hunt tripping kids having a bad trip [in that it's depression, not the freak out kind... although they'd probably scoop them up too.]
edit: also, they’re at … well tons of jam-band-like shows and festivals all across the country… And they have the pimpest double-decker school bus… like the fucking witch’s cake house in hansel and gretel


Always stay away from cults.


Agreed. Always be skeptical on the road. Good intel. I’ve been to Chatty numerous times and never ran into these clowns. Sky-pilots are a Boes nightmare.


So, almost the opposite, but back in 2003, we were hitching through GA and ended up at a commune-type trailer village with a weird girl-to-guy ratio. Everyone was in their mid-20s to early 30s, and there was maybe one dude in the whole place. They weren’t all-out hippies (Rainbow) or anything, but all the girls were cute and topless. I was traveling with a couple, so I would’ve been the only other single guy there. The girls were all super nice and inviting us to stay, but the one guy just kept trying to shoo us off, but not really letting us leave. He just wanted us to go into the swamp to camp. We finally got sick of it and convinced someone to give us a ride to the closest Flying J or whatever. But it took all day and the girls didn’t seem to get it. And the dude wouldn’t put on pants.


What town was this?


Actually, I asked someone where we were, it was the Forest Hostel in Brunswick. I don’t know what, if any, ‘authority’ the guy had, but we split anyways.


Having a creepy experience with the twelve tribes is basically a rite of passage for American travelers. I only spent one afternoon with them. I was out on cape cod, just bumming around. These two kids my age were really cool and gave me a free bus ticket from Hyannis to boston, so I thought I’d start heading that way. As it just so happened, less than a mile down the road, I stumbled across this bus full of (apparent) hippies. Score. I approached, made friendly and asked where they were headed. They just happened to be going to hyannis. To a house right next to the bus station. So of course, I got on the bus and entertained them with some uke music. At some point on the bus they told me they were twelve tribes. I had heard about these guys before, and kind of suspected it was them from the get go. They brought me to their huge compound house, fed me fruit and yogurt and made me watch them do Israeli circle dancing. ” Oh wouldn’t you like to stay for…” “Sorry my bus is coming! Gotta go!”

They were real nice but I got kind of a weird misogynist vibe…


Weird question for you was the house in plymouth,ma?


No I’m pretty sure it was hyannis, but I might be wrong.


sounds awesome tbh


Well, as far as cults go, they’re not horribly terribly bad, but ya they’re very clearly a fucking cult and should be dealt with as such. Really the most culty group I’ve ever personally interacted with. They’re all over north San Diego county as well (and all over the country, really). Yellow Deli in Vista and a farm / stand place out in Valley Center, probably others. Gotta say, their food is insanely good and healthy, as is their yerba mate. And I’ve had some good jams with them at bluegrass festivals. But again, ya, they’re a goddamn cult, if you go stay with them they will absolutely attempt to brainwash you out of your belongings, relationships, and individuality. Cults gunna cult.


yeah, all of this is true. I laughed so hard at those zines. I stayed at their hostel in Rutland VT. Their deli is super amazing tho albeit the steep prices. They asked for $20 to get put up for the night and I paid that instead of work for stay, but I ended up getting the money back because I woke up to one of the older tribe members looking under my bed.


That sounds like the people who run the Mate Factor in Ithaca. It’s a bakery and restaurant. They are weird for sure, but damn their waffles are slammin’.


same folks.


fuck i know right? their food is fucking bomb


I had never heard of them until I moved to Western North Carolina. They have a farm close to Asheville. There was an article in the local paper about them a couple of years ago, but I can’t seem to find it.

It was about a man whose wife got involved with them. She left and took their son with her. He has spent years trying to find them and is blocked at every turn. The article brought up punishment for children, starting at birth. The beat them with a hickory switch soaked in resin, for just about anything they perceive as “against their religious beliefs”.

They are building one of their delis in Hiddenite Nc now. People in town are actively trying to educate people about how they lure young people in. The funny thing is, they all say how fantastic the food in the delis is.


I had a bicycle tourist friend who late last year fell in with them on his way through the southeast and quickly realized what was really going on and got the hell out.


They run the Yellow Deli in Chattanooga right by UTC’s campus. Really good food actually.


Some weird folks for sure, never really knew anything like them existed. What a fuckin’ bizarre warped form of American hippie culture and Christian fundamentalism…..


I wish vice news would do a documentary on them. But look up “The Yellow Deli People” for a glance. They seem nice and wacky within 7 min. I can see it going downhill quick.


They are bad news. I ate at a cafe they run and they were aggressive as hell. They forbid children raised in their community to use their imagination…the fuck is wrong with them


As for all the cults I’ve ever read about, it sounds good to be a male leader. I wish god would tell me to start a cult and sleep with all the hot women in my tribe.

4 Comments On “Twelve Tribes Communities. A warning [from a fellow traveler]”

  1. I was in the Tribes for a few years, and I most say I found it to be one of the saddest experiences of my life, why….Because they look, act fell and teach many things that are true, but Christ said, you will know them by their fruit, a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. Because while there, I had marriage problems, which at first they tried to correct but later separated us against my will, against scripture that says a women shall not have authority over her husband, and the wife is to be submissive, Goggle it, and after giving up all as Luke 14:33 in order to follow Christ, they later would not forgive me for things when I tried to repent even though Luke 17:4 Says “If your brother sins against you seven times a day and comes back to say I Repent, then you shall forgive them” when I brought this issue up and they told me, “We can’t just forgive someone if they say I repent, because if we did people would keep sinning.” At that point I was shocked since I realized they were disagreeing with Christ not me. Then after I was sent away from my wife and kids after trying to repent, I did more research in line ( Goggle, child molesting in the twelve tribes) case after case after case of Ex members who were there as children were molested, one even by the Apostles wife who tried to cover it up for several years, I’ve been incredibly sad since learning these things since on the outside they look so real, loving, and kind, is this what Christ meant when He said, “Take heed, for many will come in my name and deceive many.” I went to the Tribes originally because I could not find the life of Love in Christainity, it seemed to me Christainity wanted to serve Money and God at the same time, but these people lived not that way for the most part. I swear all my statements I have made are truthful, Best Wishes in your search, for the whole world is coming under the control of the Evil One. Respectfully Martin.

  2. Well…where to start. RUN far away is my advise as a person who joined full on there close to ten years. They strip you of your identity entirely, make you a slave, disconnect you from your biological family, and herd you into full compliance. Children are slaves, uneducated in basic educational skills and if one child in a group mid-behaves they ALL get harshly thrashed with sticks enough to create welts. Single adults are worked hard without pay usually 7 days a week 15 hour days including Sabbaths because then they get to babysit the married people’s children so the couple can have sex. False teachings and men leaders who take all the money and lavish themselves with meals out while the slaves under them eat millet , moldy food, and bread. Desperate for nutrients I started to beg for pig worthy food from supermarkets to feed households of fifty people by carving out the bad parts. I could write volumes on the sins of the elders who preach love, but don’t practice it. One child was beaten with a 2 by 4 until their tailbone was broken. Another priceless woman was in a bad car accident and her head was taken off in that accident-later they said she deserved it. I knew her well and she NEVER deserved it! Shallow graves with children buried in them. It all looks really good on the surface but underneath the truth is the abuse is horrid. Again, RUN as far and as fast away from them as your feet can carry you!

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