First Alaska Native Superior Court Judge passes away

Roy Madsen. (Photo courtesy of Roy Madsen,
Joint Archives of the Alaska Court System and the Alaska Bar Association)

The Honorable Judge Roy Harding Madsen passed away peacefully in his home in Kodiak on Tuesday, December 26th. He was 94. Madsen was born in the village of Kanatak on the Alaska Peninsula in 1923.

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As a child, he began working at his father’s hunting camp, scraping the flesh off bear skulls — and he retired in 1990 as the first Alaska Native to be a Superior Court Judge. Madsen also served in the Navy during WWII, helped create the Kodiak Area Native Association, and was a part of the movement to pass the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Madsen lived a life that touched many in the Kodiak region and across Alaska. He saw many of his accomplishments honored in his later years. The Kodiak courthouse was named after him. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Anchorage. And recently, a documentary focused on his life premiered in Kodiak.

A private prayer session will be held for his family and there will be a community potluck held next summer to celebrate the beloved elder’s life. In a press release, the Madsen Family says they’d like to thank the people of Kodiak for the love, honor and affection extended to Judge Madsen over the years.

Judge Madsen is survived by his wife Linda, his children, and many grandchildren.