Jun 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden to appoint first Native American as treasurer

Treasury Department seal

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden announced on Tuesday that he intends to appoint Marilynn Malerba as U.S. treasurer, making her the first Native American to hold the position, per a White House press release.

Why it matters: As treasurer, Malerba will oversee the U.S. Mint, liaise with the Federal Reserve and advise Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in areas of community development and public engagement, among other responsibilities.

  • The Biden administration also announced the establishment of a new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs that will coordinate Tribal relations in the department and which Malerba, as treasurer, will oversee.

The big picture: Malerba is the chief of the Mohegan Tribe, a lifetime appointment, and has previously served in various other tribal government roles and worked as a registered nurse.

  • Her appointment as treasurer means that "for the first time in U.S. history, a Tribal leader and Native woman’s signature will soon be seen on the nation’s currency," per a Treasury Department press release.
  • The announcement was made ahead of Yellen's visit to South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Reservation, marking the first time a Treasury secretary has visited a tribal nation. Malerba will join Yellen on the visit.

What they're saying: “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 the Treasury release.

  • “It is especially important that our Native voices are respected. This appointment underscores this Administration’s commitment to doing just that," she added.
  • “I am deeply honored that Chief Malerba will serve as the nation’s Treasurer and spearhead the department’s new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs. This is an historic appointment,” Yellen said in the press release.
  • “Her leadership and experience will deepen our commitment to help expand economic opportunities for all Tribal communities," Yellen added.
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