Paper Money

Chief Lynn Malerba signs in as Treasurer of the United States

BEP Director Len Olijar, left, displays the newly sworn in treasurer’s freshly scribed signature as “Lynn Roberge Malerba,” as Malerba, center, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen look on.

Images screen shot from U.S. Department of Treasury YouTube.

Although the image of a woman on United States currency is still in the distance, progress of another kind was made on Sept. 12 in the Cash Room of the Treasury Department in Washington. There Secretary Janet Yellen swore in Chief Lynn Malerba as the next Treasurer of the United States.

The significance was lost on no one in the room, least of all the secretary, who acknowledged in her opening remarks that history was being made.

Without calling any attention to the fact that she is part of that history as the first female Treasury Secretary, she focused solely on Chief Malerba who is the first Native American to serve as Treasurer, saying, “Soon — for the first time in our history — a Native woman’s signature will be on our nation’s currency.”

Dual historic firsts

It was Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Len Olijar, who magnified the dual significance of the event. He said, “Today I have the honor of getting your signature so that we may add it to United States currency. Our next currency series is going to feature the signatures of two women for the first time in the nation’s history....

“My folks in Bureau of Engraving and Printing are excited to have this honor. Our currency sends a message around the world and today the message it is sending is that our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, are achieving things that were unimaginable in the previous [generations] of families.”

Serving as treasurer, Malerba’s responsibilities include directly overseeing the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Fort Knox bullion depository, serving as liaisons with the Federal Reserve System and to underserved communities across the country on matters of financial security and economic inclusion.

Malerba additionally will head the new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, which will coordinate Tribal policy and engagement across the Treasury Department.

A sweetened success

The new Treasurer said in her remarks why she was emotional about signing the currency. “On every step on the trail of life, I have been blessed with people who have believed in me and have encouraged me. It is only for that fact that I am here today. My parents, my siblings, my husband,... my children, my sons-in-law, my grandchildren, my colleagues, my dear friends, my Mohegan tribal leaders and Mohegan family are those people. They are and will always be my enduring motivation. No one achieves their goals without people who stand by your side and trust in your vision. Any success is much sweeter because of them.”

She then explained her signature, “I used my maiden name as part of my signature, which is Roberge, and that’s my middle name. My parents raised seven children with so much love but a lot of financial hardship, and they struggled so greatly to provide for us, but they did an amazing job. And imagine: now their name is on the currency, when they found it so difficult to have any in their lifetime, and so they are with me today.”

She concluded, “It is such an honor to assume this office. When I was sworn in as Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, I noted that we walk in the footsteps of our ancestors on the trail of life, and we must leave footprints on the path for those who come after us so that they may find their way easily. I now hope to help all the next generations of this United States find their way easily with respect for their ancestors and the unique cultures that they all represent.”

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