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Malerba to be first Native American U.S. treasurer

Indian Country took note this week of another historic Native American appointment by the Biden administration. Lynn Malerba, chief of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, is set to be the first Native American to be U.S. treasurer – the highest-ranking Native Treasury official in U.S. history and the first Native woman to have her signature appear on American currency.

Biden announced his intent to nominate Malerba on June 21. The nomination does not need approval by the U.S. Senate. The U.S. treasurer is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which is headed by Secretary Janet Yellen.

Lynn Malerba (Via Mohegan Tribe)

As treasurer, Malerba will oversee the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the storage of gold at Fort Knox, as well as serve as a senior adviser to Yellen on issues regarding community development and public engagement.

She will also lead the Treasury’s newly established Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, which will coordinate tribal relations across the department and house staff dedicated to communication with tribal nations.

“This is yet another historic moment for Indian Country under this administration,” the United South & Eastern Tribes Sovereign Protection Fund (USET SPF) said in a statement. “Chief Malerba will take full advantage of the opportunity to ensure that tribal nations have a strong voice at the Treasury, as it seeks to craft policy that reflects our unique circumstances and relationship with the United States.”

Malerba has served as USET SPF secretary for many years.

Malerba became the 18th chief of the Mohegan Tribe in 2010 and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. The position is a lifetime appointment made by the tribe’s council of elders. 

“This appointment is an honor for her and for our tribe, and it is well-deserved. Lynn has been a trailblazer in the Mohegan community,” James Gessner Jr., chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, said in the statement.

Malerba previously served on the Mohegan tribal council, including as chairwoman. She also led the tribe’s Health and Human Services agency and has had a distinguished career in economic development and as a health care professional and hospital administrator.

She currently serves as chairwoman of the Indian Health Service’s tribal self-governance advisory committee and is a member of the Justice Department’s tribal nations leadership council, the tribal advisory committee for the National Institutes of Health, and the Treasury tribal advisory committee.