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Secretary Yellen’s Visit Rosebud Indian Reservation 

June 21, 2022

 On Tuesday, June 21, Secretary Yellen will visit the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota—the first visit by a Secretary of the Treasury to a Tribal nation. She will be joined by Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, Lifetime Chief of the Mohegan Indian Tribe, who President Biden will appoint as Treasurer of the United States—the first Native American U.S. Treasurer. For the first time in history, a Tribal leader and Native woman’s signature will be on U.S. currency. The Treasury Department will also announce the establishment of a new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, which will report to the Treasurer and coordinate Tribal relations throughout the Department. 


Secretary Yellen and Chief Malerba will meet with the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council, to discuss how recovery and American Rescue Plan funds are supporting the Tribe’s recovery from the pandemic and expanding economic opportunity for its citizens. They will hear about the impact the pandemic had on the Tribe, and the Tribe’s economic development efforts and challenges. They will speak about Tribal leaders’ plans to use funding from the American Rescue Plan to increase affordable housing supply and expand access to high-speed affordable internet. 


Following their meeting with the Tribal Council, Secretary Yellen and Chief Malerba will visit the Ojinjinkta Housing Development Corporation (OHDC), where they will see how the Tribe is using recovery funds to provide housing services including emergency rental aid, mortgage assistance, and the construction of affordable housing. They will tour Tribal housing facilities and meet with Rosebud members who received emergency rental assistance funding. The Tribe has significant housing needs, including overcrowding and repair issues, and is using recovery funds to address these needs. 


They will also visit the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), which operates several businesses and programs aimed at generating revenue for the Tribal government and creating jobs for Tribal members. There, they will discuss economic development activities, and tour the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative and the Keya Wakpala (Turtle Creek) development site, home to a grocery store with housing and commercial real estate development planned. Facing nutritional and health challenges, high food costs, lack of access to grocery stores, and difficulties in preserving traditional food practices, many Tribes today work on food sovereignty project to bring food production and nutritional programs to Tribal communities. 


Following their meetings and tour of projects and programs funded by the American Rescue Plan, Secretary Yellen and Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Scott Herman will deliver remarks. 


Background on Rosebud Sioux Tribe 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is the 10th largest Tribal Nation, with 35,354 enrolled Tribal citizens. According to 2020 Census figures, over 59% of Rosebud Sioux Tribal households live in poverty (compared to a national average of 12.18%); the median income is $22,655 (national average is $67,521); and life expectancy is 68 (national average is 78). Due to its rural and large land base, the Tribe struggles to access capital for economic development. Despite these challenges, Rosebud has a number of economic development efforts underway, many managed by the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO). 

The Great Plains region has had the third highest Tribal infection rate of COVID-19 among Indian Health Service (IHS) regions, with over 25,000 infections. Tribes in the Great Plains have collectively reported over 300 deaths. During the pandemic, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe curtailed its enterprise operations and as a result lost critical governmental revenue. 


Rosebud’s difficulties and opportunities are broadly representative of much of Indian Country, where Tribal members face extreme disparities in health outcomes, unemployment, and poverty. 


Excerpts from Secretary Yellen’s Remarks as Prepared for Delivery at Rosebud Indian Reservation 

“Earlier today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint Chief Lynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe as our next Treasurer. For the first time in history, a Tribal leader and Native woman’s name will be the signature on our currency. With this announcement, we are making an even deeper commitment to Indian Country: The Treasury Department is establishing an Office of Tribal and Native Affairs, in the Office of the Treasurer, which will be responsible for Treasury-wide Tribal work. 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. 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.” 


“The American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden in March 2021, provided much-needed relief, injecting billions of dollars into Tribal communities across the country. This legislation has led to a historic investment in Indian Country. Our flagship program, the Fiscal Recovery Funds, provided $20 billion to Tribal governments to help fight the pandemic and help Tribal households and businesses recover.” 


“The ARP was an important milestone not only due to the relief it provided; it also began to expand and redefine the relationship of the Treasury Department with Tribal nations. At Treasury, we took seriously the charge to use this moment as an opportunity to establish deeper engagement and trust with Tribal communities across the country. As Treasury distributed this aid, which in totality is over $30 billion in direct aid to Tribal governments, we made sure to do so in a way that both respected Tribal sovereignty and built upon our partnership to tackle Indian Country’s economic challenges.” 


“At Treasury, we integrated Tribal leader feedback into our implementation and distribution of funds. We saw that Tribes faced unprecedented fiscal challenges because of the pandemic at the same time they took on new responsibilities to keep their citizens healthy and afloat. So, we designed the Fiscal Recovery Funds to be able to meet the needs of each individual tribe. … For instance, when you here in Rosebud told us that ‘many of [your] tribal members cannot afford internet in the home,’ which ‘resulted in many children unable to attend virtual school as well as tribal employees unable to connect remotely,’ we worked with you to approve a Capital Projects Funding Award to enhance internet connectivity across the Tribe. To date, Treasury has made $8 million in Tribal Capital Projects Awards. This is just one way Treasury is working with the rest of the Biden-Harris Administration to improve broadband connectivity across Indian Country.” 

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