Helena Schmitz is the Founder for Atux̂ Forever: Restoring Attuans’ Freedom. As a descendant of the last Chief of Atux̂ (Attu), Michael Hodikoff and his wife Anecia Hodikoff Helena is leading her familys’ leadership legacy by beginning this nonprofit to help the Saskinax̂ (English: Attuans). She has seventeen years of environmental professional experience with degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Toxicology amongst other professions. Being close to our Mother Earth is our way of life ~ Tuman tanax̂ ama alaĝux̂ ama taangax̂ max̂tal. She has helped various groups –business, non-profits, tribal organizations, and has worked with State and Federal organizations. This professional background will aid in beginning this nonprofit’s path forward, especially with her positive and creative attributes. Helena is inspired by her son Brad who told her when he was nine that he wanted to visit Atux̂ with her. She is also inspired by her daughter Anecia and her husband Brad Sr. Schmitz. Helena enjoys skiing with her son and just relaxing with her family by drinking hot chocolate tinted with some orange tea.
Left to right: Brad, Anecia, and Helena
Theresa Deal is the Co-Founder. My name is Theresa, I’m a Descendant of Atux̂. I’m daughter of Marina Hodikoff, Prisoner #36. I have lived in Vancouver, Washington for most of my life. Vancouver is on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Although I am far removed from my culture, I am very aware of my heritage. I was able to join other descendants on the research vessel Tiglax̂ in 2017 to travel to Atux̂, Attu. What a spectacular and emotional trip. I can actually say, “I took a trip of a lifetime”. This trip was a week-long trip that included nine other Saskinax̂ (Attuans). It was indescribable. Words cannot convey how beautiful the Aleutian Islands are; cannot convey the experience of riding in a 120’ vessel in the Bering Sea; cannot convey sleeping in a small room, shared with three other people; cannot convey the distance of Attu Village. I especially cannot convey the absolute power it feels like to actually walk on the village site, to walk on the beach where the villagers foraged for sea urchins, to walk on marine tundra to look at the memorial commemorating the villagers. I really don’t want that trip to be the last time Sasignan are able to set foot on the island of Atux̂. I truly would like every descendant to have the opportunity to visit Atux̂. I have two adult sons, I would like them to have the opportunity to visit Atux̂, as well. My occupation is Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper and Human Resources. This involves Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Payroll, and data entry; essentially, I run most aspects in the office. What I do in my time at home is quilting, hiking, Sudoku puzzles, and crossword puzzles. Also, I am on our County’s Search and Rescue team.
Left to right: Nicholas, Theresa, Marcus