Padilla Welcomes Appointment of First Native American U.S. Treasurer and Creation of New Office of Tribal and Native Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the Biden-Harris administration appointed Lynn Malerba, Lifetime Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, to serve as Treasurer of the United States and oversee the newly created Office of Tribal and Native Affairs:

“I’m proud to see the administration empower the Treasury Department to better coordinate and consult with Tribal governments. As Treasurer, Chief Malerba will bring extensive experience to guide the creation of the new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs. Her leadership will ensure that Tribal Nations have a formal seat at the table where decisions affecting their communities are made.

“Over the last year, I’ve advocated for improved tribal consultation and expanded economic opportunities for tribal communities. Malerba’s appointment, along with the creation of this new office, will go far in building a stronger and more respectful nation-to-nation relationship.”

Last year, Senator Padilla called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to establish an Office of Tribal Affairs to improve the Department’s tribal consultation process, strengthen the Department’s relationship with tribal nations, and provide more in-house expertise on matters affecting tribal nations. Treasury has long had a role in matters, including tax and finance issues, that have seriously affected the welfare and sovereignty of some tribal nations. This role has increased over time and has become extremely important during the COVID-19 pandemic, because Congress has charged Treasury with the crucial responsibility of disbursing to tribal nations billions of dollars in relief funds.

Senator Padilla has been a leading voice advocating for improved tribal consultation and elevating Tribal voices in federal decision-making. California has the largest number of Tribes in the lower 48 states, with 109 distinct federally recognized Tribal governments and a population of over 723,225 American Indians.

As Treasurer, Chief Malerba will oversee the newly established Office of Tribal and Native Affairs that will house staff directly dedicated to communication with Tribal nations and the hub for Tribal policy. Treasury previously created a Tribal team in 2021 as part of its efforts to develop the department’s growing relationship with Tribal nations and to help administer $30 billion in programs directed towards Tribes through the American Rescue Plan. The new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs will work across Treasury’s portfolio on issues related to Tribal nations, and Treasury intends to work with Congress to ensure this office has the resources it needs to carry out its mission.