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Roy Madsen was born in 1923 in the village of Kanatak on Kodiak Island, Alaska. His father was a fur trader, and his mother was Sugpiaq-Alutiiq of the Sun’aq tribe. He attended Oregon State College, served in the Navy during World War II, and went to law school at Northwestern College of Law in Portland, Oregon. He was the district attorney in Clackamas County, Oregon, was a private attorney in Kodiak, Alaska, helped establish the Kodiak Area Native Association and the Kodiak Community College, served on the University of Alaska Board of Regents, the Alaska Commission for Human Rights, and served as Superior Court judge in Kodiak from 1975 until his retirement in 1990. Judge Madsen is known as the only Alaska Native to be a Superior Court judge. Since retirement, Judge Madsen has been involved in the Color of Justice Program, which brings diverse youth from across Alaska together for exciting workshops and activities designed to introduce them to the study of law and to encourage them to consider legal and judicial careers. In 1996, he wrote "A History of the Kodiak Bench and Bar."