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Mohegan Indian Tribe Chief appointed to be U.S. treasurer

Biden Treasurer
Jessica Hill
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.

Mohegan Indian Tribe Lifetime Chief Marilynn Malerba has been appointed by President Joe Biden to be the U.S. treasurer. Malerba will be the first Native American to serve in the position.

The historic nomination also means it will be the first time a Native American’s signature will appear on U.S. currency. In a statement released by the Mohegan Tribe, Malerba said she was honored and humbled by the commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard by the Treasury. She said the collaboration is a step towards creating an equitable and just society.

“It is especially important that our native voices are respected," Malerba said. "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."

Malerba will oversee the Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, which will serve as the hub for tribal policy and communication. The office was recently established by the Biden administration in an effort to develop the department’s growing relationship with tribal nations.

In 2010, Malerba made history when she became chief of the Mohegan Tribe as the first woman to serve in the tribe’s modern history. The lifetime appointment is made by the tribe’s Council of Elders. Before becoming chief, she served on the Tribal Council, including as chairwoman, and led the tribe’s Health and Human Services agency. Malerba worked as a healthcare professional and hospital administrator.

In a statement following the announcement, Governor Ned Lamont applauded Biden’s historic selection.

“Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a commitment to public service, most recently as chief of the Mohegan Tribe, where she led with dignity and respect for all,” Lamont said. “Her appointment is well deserved, and I celebrate yet another Connecticut resident joining the Biden administration in a high-ranking position.”

Mohegan Tribe Chairman James Gessner Jr. congratulated Malerba on the appointment. He said Malerba has been a trailblazer in the Mohegan community.

“[Malerba’s] appointment is another positive step by the Biden administration to show inclusiveness with Native Americans and ensure we have a seat at the table of the federal government,” Gessner said. “We congratulate Lynn on this incredible appointment. The Nation will be stronger with her serving in the administration.”

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.