Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter in Tanacross is "WOW"

EASTER 2005, TANANCROSS, ALASKA... This is a story about Dawn Grossmann, frostysticher, and her husband Bruce. It was taken from the Roadside Ministry section of the Summer, 2005 newsletter of the Alaska Mission for Christ (AMC).

"We are still basking in the JOY and WOW of Easter, and we’d like to share a story told by Bruce and Dawn Grossmann about an Easter they experienced. ( Bruce and Dawn Grossman serve as lay ministers for the AMC in the villages of Tanacross, Healy Lake, Dot Lake, as well as the town of Delta Junction where they live.)

“While Bruce prepared for worship service in Tanacross last Sunday, Dawn set up for Sunday school at the Community Center.

Eli (Ed Note: Grossmann's 16 year old son) drove around the village picking up kids for class. Nine students came running through the door into the big room and turned the quiet hall into echoes of laughter and interest.

We have begun our study of the Easter story. This week we spoke of Jesus coming before Pontius Pilate and of how harshly the soldiers treated him. We have spoken often in class the last year about the Old Testament responsibility of sacrifices because of the sins of the people.

This was the day we spoke about Jesus and the blood that he shed as the sacrifice for our sins. The room became very quiet as even the youngest in the class, a 4-year, listened closely as Dawn spoke of the treatment Christ received.

They were all aware of how unfair it was and we talked about how Jesus could have called “bazillion” angels to come and help Him, but He didn’t. When Dawn tied all this in with the sacrifices of the Old Testament figures she was pleased to see the understanding spark in the eyes of three faithful students… …[they] understood why we never have to bring a pigeon or a lamb to church with us.

The biggest and most amazing sacrifice has already been given for us. [Another child] asked, “Why would He do that? It’s crazy. I would punch those mean guys.” “Because He loves us so very, very much. More than our moms and our dads and our grandmas… more than anyone.” Dawn answered.

For a moment that huge room was solemnly quiet. Nine little hearts pressed against that table and someone faintly whispered… “Wow.”
An excellent description of the Easter story… “Wow.”

Tanacross is a northern Athabaskan village located on the Tanana River about 14 miles northwest of Tok in Alaska's Interior. Bruce and Dawn often drive the nearly 80 miles from Delta to Tanacross to conduct services for these people.

Dawn also has a very interesting tale concerning a potlatch in Tanacross and her son, Eli eating caribou nose, an Athabaskan delicacy.

Bruce Grossman & Kenny Thomas, Sr.

Kenny Thomas, Sr. is an elder in the northern Athabaskan tribal group in Tanacross, Alaska. He is also a song and dance leader for the Tanacross community.

Kenny Thomas was born in Alaska in 1922. He has written a very interesting book, "Crow is My Boss, The Oral Life History of a Tanacross Athabaskan Elder". (This book is available online at and Powell's Books)


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