Personal photos from Nora Guinn, which were donated to the Joint Archives of the Alaska Court System and the Alaska Bar Association
Nora Guinn was born in 1920 in Akiak, Alaska to Joe and Anna Venes. She was educated at Eklutna Boarding School, and high school in Portland, Oregon. She was a BIA school teacher in Tununak, and a United States Commissioner, deputy magistrate and district court magistrate in Bethel. In 1968, she was appointed the first judge of the new District Court in Bethel. She was the first woman and first Alaska Native to hold such a position. Being a fluent Yupik speaker, she would often conduct hearings in Yupik to ensure that her people understood the charges and the reasons for her judgments. In 1971, Nora Guinn was Master of the Family Division of the Alaska Supreme Court and conducted trainings for other judges and magistrates. She retired from the bench in 1976. In 1978, she received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage. The courthouse in Bethel is named in her honor. For more about Judge Guinn.