For the first time in history, the signature of a Native American will adorn US currency. The Biden administration has named Mohegan Indian Tribe Lifetime Chief Marilynn Malerba as the new US Treasurer.
As leader of the Mohegans, Malerba is the public face of the Connecticut-based tribe’s business interests.
These include Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE), which owns the Mohegan Sun casino resort on the tribe’s Connecticut reservation. Recently, it became the first tribal operator to crack Las Vegas, with the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels.
The tribe also owns casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Canada. Next year, it plans to open a casino resort outside Incheon International Airport near Seoul, South Korea.
“With this announcement, we are making an even deeper commitment to Indian Country,” said Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, announcing the appointment at the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota Tuesday.
“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,” Yellen added.
As US Treasurer, Malerba will have direct oversight of the US Mint and Fort Knox and key liaison with the Federal Reserve. She will also oversee the Office of Consumer Policy at the US Treasury and serve as a senior advisor to the Treasury secretary on community development and engagement.
All this is a far cry from Marbela’s early professional life, which was spent as a critical care nurse and hospital administrator. She then served as executive director of the Mohegan tribe’s Health and Human Services Department, before joining the tribal council. She was elected chief in August 2010, a position held for life.
‘Gigantic Step Forward’
This is the Biden administration’s second appointment of a Native American woman to a major government post. In March 2021, Deb Haaland became the first Native American to serve as a presidential cabinet secretary when she was named US Interior Secretary. Halaand is an enrolled member of the New Mexico-based Laguna Pueblo.
At the time, US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Haaland’s appointment represented “a gigantic step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country.”
Haaland oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which is responsible for implementing federal laws and policies related to America’s roughly two million indigenous people across 574 recognized tribes.
The BIA also makes key decisions on land in-trust-applications by tribes seeking to build new casinos, and it ratifies gaming compacts agreed between tribal and state governments.
Malerba said Tuesday she was “honored and humbled” by her appointment, which demonstrated 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.”
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