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Biden to appoint first Native American treasurer of the United States

FILE - Marilynn "Lynn" Malerba stands next to a photograph of late Chief Ralph Sturges at Tribal offices in Uncasville, Conn., on March 4, 2010. Malerba, who is Native American, was nominated to be U.S. Treasurer in a historic first, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Biden's nomination of Malerba to the federal Treasury role was announced ahead of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

President Joe Biden will appoint Marilynn Malerba as treasurer of the United States, making the lifetime chief of the Mohegan Tribe the first Native American to hold the position, the White House announced on Tuesday.

The appointment means that for the first time in US history a Tribal leader and Native American woman’s signature will appear on the nation’s currency, the Treasury Department said in a news release.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to visit the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota later Tuesday, the first time in history that a Treasury secretary will visit a Tribal nation, according to the department. Malerba is scheduled to accompany Yellen on the trip.

Malerba will directly oversee the US Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and Fort Knox and will serve as a liaison with the Federal Reserve. She will be a senior adviser to Yellen and will lead a newly created Office of Tribal and Native Affairs within the US Treasury.

The new office will coordinate Tribal relations across the Treasury Department and will include staff focused on communicating directly with Tribal nations, the department said. Yellen will announce the creation of the new office during remarks on Tuesday, according to excerpts of her speech shared with CNN.

“Chief Malerba will expand our unique relationship with Tribal nations, continuing our joint efforts to support the development of Tribal economies and economic opportunities for Tribal citizens. Importantly, we look forward to working with Tribal nations and Congress to make this office permanent — so it will be there for decades to come,” Yellen will say.

During Yellen’s trip to the Rosebud Indian Reservation on Tuesday, the secretary is expected to highlight how funds from the Covid-19 relief bill are being used to support the Tribe’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Yellen will meet with residents who received funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program and will speak with Tribal leaders about expanding affordable housing.

Malerba became the first woman to serve as chief of the Mohegan Tribe in 2010, a lifetime appointment made by the Tribe’s Council of Elders. Malerba previously served as the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee. Before becoming chief, Malerba served as the chairwoman of the Tribal Council and also served in Tribal Government as Executive Director of Health and Human Services. Malerba also has worked as a registered nurse and was the director of cardiology and pulmonary services at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

She currently serves as a member of the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee, which advises Yellen on “significant matters related to the taxation of Indians, the training of Internal Revenue Service field agents, and the provisions of training and technical assistance to Native American financial officers,” the White House says.

“I am honored and humbled by Secretary Yellen and the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard by Treasury as we work together to create an equitable and just society,” Malerba said in a news release by the Treasury Department. “It is especially important that our Native voices are respected. This appointment underscores this Administration’s commitment to doing just that. I am excited to serve our communities as Treasurer and for the work ahead.”