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by Alexis Ann
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Everyone filed into the morning press conference at the Mohegan Congregational Church in Uncasville and took their seats. The atmosphere was of happiness and honor. Chairman Robert F. Soper, Council of Elders, Mohegan Tribe, approached the podium to announce the appointment of Mohegans first Tribal Chairwomen Lynn Malerba to serve as the Chief of the Mohegan Tribe. Both Tribal Elders and Tribal Council members joined Lynn in this celebration.
Robert introduced Lynn by saying, “Because of her excellent character, her exceptional diplomacy, her outstanding leadership and her devotion to the Mohegan Tribe and its people, we have unanimously decided that our next Chief shall be Lynn Malerba.”
Mark Brown, Tribal Ambassador, agrees that this decision is “All good.” Lynn will be the 17th Chief in the Tribe’s history. She will continue to serve as Mohegan’s first Tribal Chairwoman until her induction as the first female Chief since 1723. The induction is schedule for August 15th during homecoming cermonines at Fort Shantok.
The position of Chief is a lifetime appointment and Lynn will be filling the vacant position, open since the passing of Chief Ralph Sturges in 2007.
With great humility and happiness, Chairwoman Lynn said, “I am extremely grateful to be appointed to this position and remember those who have come before me, beginning with our last Chief Ralph Sturges.”
Lynn will be known by the Mohegan name “Mutawi Mutahash” which translates as “Many Hearts.” She credited Medicine Woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel for helping her with her name selection the previous night. Lynn said, “It is a great responsibility, and at the same time, a great honor.”
When Lynn is inducted as Chief in August, she will continue to work for the greater good of all and she made it known that, “Once I am installed as Chief, acting in concert with both elected bodies, the Tribal Council and the Elders [Council]; I will work to be a complement to their efforts.”
Lynn spoke about how it was important to ensure that the Tribal Nation not only endures but thrives in the next generations. To ensure this, “I will care for this generation of hearts, the ones that I know today and the ones that I will meet in the future.” She felt that this privilege bestowed upon her calls for an understanding of all generations.
Lynn also understands that, “The Chief represents continuity and stability within the Tribal Nation. Each Chief has historically defined his role, and I say his – there was only one other female Chief and it was for a very brief time in the seventeen hundreds – by the needs of the Tribal Membership and the times they have found themselves in.”
Chairwoman Lynn will define her role as Chief, in these new times, with a woman’s perspective. Her mother, Loretta Mae Fielding Roberge said, “We don’t like to say women, but I think it is a good example for all women to see – if you work hard you can succeed and move forward.”
Chairwoman Lynn has a vast background that will help her as Chief. When it came time to pursue her studies beyond high school, Lynn chose Hartford Hospital School of Nursing where she became a diploma-ed registered nurse. Lynn then continued her studies at St. Joseph’s College. “I knew that if I didn’t get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I wouldn’t be able to progress in the field.” Lynn did just that. Her nursing career includes working at Hartford Hospital for two years and Lawrence & Memorial for 21 years. She currently serves on L&M’s Board of Directors. Her other experience within the Tribe includes serving as Executive Director of the Tribe’s Health and Human Services Department. Lynn later earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of Connecticut, 2008.
In a statement released to the Resident, Senator Chris Dodd said, “It is fitting that the Mohegan Tribe has appointed Lynn Malerba to be the first female Chief in almost three centuries during Women’s History Month. The duties of the Tribe’s Chief are great, and I have no doubt that Lynn will do an excellent job as its new leader, as she has done as the Tribal Council Chairwoman and previously as the Executive Director of the Tribe’s Health and Human Services Department.”
Lynn draws from and finds inspiration in her family. Lynn is one of seven children – five sisters and one brother – to parents Albert and Loretta Roberge. Her mother served on the Tribal Council for 30 years and assisted with the Tribe’s petition for Federal Recognition.
Loretta, said of her daughter, “I know in my heart that Lynn will follow in the footsteps of many great Chiefs and continue the strong leadership role of women in the Mohegan Tribe as we move forward together into the 21st Century.”
Lynn grew up with an awareness of the Mohegans’ struggle for Federal Recognition and teared up as she acknowledged the spiritual guidance of her mother. It is all of the combined experiences that bring Lynn to say, “I am but one leader in a long line of very respected leaders in our Mohegan Nation and I will always seek to honor my Tribal Family by my actions and words, and not just this family but those that are yet to come.”
Lynn is the great-granddaughter of Matahga (Burrill Fielding), who served as the Tribe’s Chief from 1937-1952.
Lynn is married to Paul Malerba, and they have two daughters, Elizabeth, 26, and Angela, 23.