U.S. Secretary of Treasury makes historic visit to Rosebud Indian Reservation

News StaffJune 22, 2022News
Kevin AbourezkU.S Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (second from right) and Lynn Malerba (second from left), the lifetime chief of the Mohegan Tribe, speak to Rosebud Sioux tribal leaders Tuesday during a visit to the tribe’s South Dakota reservation.

ROSEBUD, SD – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota on Tuesday – the first time in history that a Treasury secretary has visited a Tribal nation, according to the department.

“This is my first visit to Indian Country, and it’s meaningful to me to see first-hand the beauty of the Rosebud Reservation and to hear about your Tribe’s rich heritage,” said Yellen in remarks. “It’s also been illuminating to listen to you discuss the deep challenges that you and Tribal nations around the country face, and hear your thoughts on how we can partner together to accelerate the economic recovery for all Tribal citizens.

She was joined by the newly appointed Treasurer of the United States, Marilynn Malerba, a lifetime chief of the Mohegan Tribe and the first Native American to serve as the nation’s treasurer. In that job, Malerba will oversee the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and Fort Knox, and will serve as a liaison with the Federal Reserve.

Yellen said that despite the efforts by Tribal governments to develop their economies, significant inequities exist and that many have their roots in prior federal policy.  She called for a “rethink” of some tax credit programs to allow tribes to participate, and to reduce barriers to financing on tribal lands. “We heard a lot about treaty obligations that haven’t been met and long-standing barriers to economic development — lack of access to capital for example,” Yellen told reporters after a meeting with Rosebud tribal officials.

“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,” said Yellen.  “Importantly, we look forward to working with Tribal nations and Congress to make this office permanent — so it will be there for decades to come.”

Yellen also announced the creation of a new Treasury Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, which will report to the treasurer and administer tribal relations.  The new office will coordinate Tribal relations across the Treasury Department and will include staff focused on communicating directly with Tribal nations.

The new office will also assist tribes in making the most of some $30 billion in COVID-19 assistance funds for tribal communities. “Over the past year and a half, our Department has held 15 Tribal consultations and over 100 engagement sessions with Tribal leaders, along with one-on-one outreach to Tribes directly and through related organizations,” Yellen said. “These consultations serve to strengthen our engagement with Tribal national and regional associations and solidify our interagency partnerships.”