As Prepared for Delivery
Kutapatotamawush (Thank you) all so much for being here today. Nuteeooees Soqsqa Mutawi Mutahash wuchee Moheehkanuwak My name is Chief Many Hearts Lynn Malerba from Mohegan. I am honored to serve as the Treasurer of this United States.
Before I begin my remarks, I want to recognize that we have a history-making woman in this very room. Last year, Ventris Gibson was sworn in as the first Black woman to lead the United States Mint. Director Gibson, it’s great to see you.
As Treasurer, it is a privilege to work closely with both the Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In December, I visited a BEP facility with Secretary Yellen – the first woman to ever lead the Treasury Department – for the unveiling of the new series of U.S. banknotes, which features both of our signatures. Interestingly, women have been represented as employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in large numbers since the 1860’s. If you visit Treasury, you will see many of their photos throughout the building.
For the first time in our nation’s history, young girls will grow up seeing the signatures of two women on their paper currency. And for the young girls of my tribe, the Mohegan Tribe, back in Connecticut – they’ll grow up seeing the name of a Native woman on their currency for the first time.
Of course, today, we’re here to talk about our quarters, not our banknotes. But the reason I share this story is to remind everyone in this room the reason we are here today, honoring the American Women Quarters Program and celebrating Women’s History Month: Representation matters.
These quarters highlight the unique contribution of women central to our shared history. As Treasurer of the United States, it is such a wonderful moment to be able to celebrate that the 2023 series features two Native women: Maria Tallchief a citizen of the Osage Nation who was the first native prima ballerina and Edith Kanaka’ole, a Native Hawaiian dancer, chanter, teacher, and kumu hula. Last year’s quarter honoring the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller is so popular you can’t buy any online (I know, I’ve tried!). The native tradition of storytelling is reflected in the artistry of these quarters. This is in addition to the other women’s quarters that represent the breadth and diversity of this United States.
Beyond the specific honorees, the American Women Quarters Program calls on all of us to pause and reflect on the coins’ greater meaning. Women play an important role in every facet of our society. We celebrate them and their contributions to our nation.
Currency powers our economic engine – but it also has a deeper social purpose. Who shows up on our currency sends a message about what we value, who we respect, and how we’ve progressed as a society – and not just to our own communities. Our currency is a powerful means of globally communicating our national identity in a tangible way.
The American Women Quarters Program is affirming women as a source of unity, strength and equal members of our society. This program ensures our currency reflects the place women hold in our nation, the breadth of the American story and of our democratic values. These coins are reflective of our collective will to create a stronger and more inclusive economy – and a motivation for us to continue to advance our values to reflect that.