The clangor of bells and whooping music filled the air while Keith Anderson danced as his people have for centuries.
Native@VT hosted its Native Harvest Festival at Kentland Farms on Saturday to celebrate American Indian heritage month.
Anderson is a member of the Red Crooked Sky dance troupe, which performed on Saturday. The troupe has previously performed for the Dalai Lama when he visited Charlottesville earlier this month.
The festival included educational sessions of how Native Americans lived, traded and cooked. There were also vendors selling artwork and jewelry made by the local tribes.
"The theme for this year is preserving cultural richness. What we're trying to do is have an event that happens annually. We're starting small and hopefully we'll be able to do this every year and get it bigger," said Sara McDonough, a graduate assistant for Sam Cook, a sociology professor in charge of the American Indian Studies program at Tech.
While not of native descent herself, McDonough became involved with Native@VT through Cook.
McDonough helped to sell baked goods at the festival to raise money for a possible powwow in the future.
"I talked to Sam because I wanted to put on a powwow on campus, but we need to get funding, and we need more interest in it, and more people involved," said Davina Campbell, a graduate student of public health, who danced with the Red Crooked Sky troupe.
Campbell is of Oklahoma Choctaw descent. She worked with Cook to help organize the festival.
And while it has been held before, it has occurred sporadically.
"It's a good way to make people that have been rendered invisible more visible to people that may not get a chance to be exposed to talking to them," McDonough said.
Many locals and students came out to see the festival and learn about Native American traditions, both for personal interest and for possible application.
"I hope to really get an appreciation for how we can use local knowledge and foods here to see more sustainable ways than what we're doing down the road at Tech," said Stephen Jordan, a graduate student in the sociology department.
Jordan worked with the American Indian Studies program during his undergraduate time at Tech, and saw the festival as an opportunity for everyone to learn about the Native American lifestyle and help to prevent racial intolerance and prejudice.
The group hopes to raise funding for future powwow’s and events.