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Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa

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A battalion of U.S. Navy Seabees will upgrade tribal roads on the reservation in mid-to-late July, thanks to the cost-saving and infrastructure-building program, "Operation Walking Shield" and under auspices of the Military Reserve Command. The Seabees were preceded in May and June by military medical and dental teams consisting of doctors and nurses continuing their readiness training on the reservation until August. Eastern and Western Reserve commands provide reserve military units to serve on 26 reservations throughout the western United States and as far east as Minnesota. Leech Lake submitted its first plan in 1999, asking for a medical unit to assist the hospital in patient care and a construction unit to help repair tribal roads. "Rather than have time and money spent to go oversees to keep military preparedness career skills sharpened (as in the past) Operation Walking Shield is saving millions of taxpayer dollars to allow the work to go on here," Chairman Eli Hunt said. "(It) also is helping Native Peoples on the continuing paths to upgrading their living and working environments ... ."