Dressed in colorful costumes adorned with beads, feathers and fur, they danced.
The Native Americans sang, chanted and performed tribal dances to a resounding drumbeat at the first ever Powwow at Bunner Ridge Park Saturday in Marion County.
Mike Maniscalco, an 18-year-old Native American dancer from Connecticut sat outside his 18-foot teepee taking a break after performing.
"I've danced everywhere," he said. "This summer I danced in Oregon. It's lots of fun and it makes you feel good."
He has been dancing traditional Indian dances since he was 12 years old. His ankles were encircled with bells that clanged as he kept time with the drums.
Maniscalco performed a hoop dance with more than 20 hoops that he intricately weaved around his body in patterns.
"We have dancers here from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio," said Paulette Wood, one of the organizers of the event. "It's a very successful day, and we hope to make it a two-day event next year."
More than 1,000 people came to the ridge to watch and learn about the Indian culture, Wood said.
All the proceeds benefit the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, according to Wood. The center is a non-profit organization that cares for injured, sick and orphaned birds of prey for their eventual release into the wild.
Wood, whose Native American name is Silver Swan, is of Cherokee and Shawnee descent. She worked as a volunteer at the rehab center and discovered they were looking for something to do for a fundraiser.
She thought a powwow was the perfect answer.
"American Indians are so in tune with nature and we consider the birds our brothers and sisters, so this was perfect," she said.
In addition to the tribal dancing, spectators watched a bird show featuring Thunder, an American bald eagle, and walked through grounds which sported tepees and numerous vendors selling beads, jewelry, paintings and Native American merchandise.
Don and Jean Eggerth, of Morgantown, came to watch the festivities.
The couple moved to Morgantown from Phoenix and have attended powwows throughout the southwest.
"The hoop dancer was probably the best I've ever seen," he said. "The influence is predominantly East Coast tribes. This is the kind of thing we enjoy doing, and we didn't think we'd find it in West Virginia."
Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.