NH’s Soldati Reports Cautious Optimism at Standing Rock

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Lincoln Soldati

Traffic was heavy with arriving veterans and the news media on Sunday at Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Seacoast area lawyer Lincoln Soldati is reporting for InDepthNH.org from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota where several thousand native Americans and others are gathered in opposition to the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. Today, Lincoln talks about the mood at camp after the news that the Army is now exploring other options for the pipeline, that victory is at hand.

Army Blocks Drilling of Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (New York Times)
As North Dakota Pipeline is Blocked, Veterans at Standing Rock Cheer (New York Times)

Dispatch 1: ‘An Unforgettable Thanksgiving’: Portsmouth Attorney Lincoln Soldati Reports From Standing Rock (Posted 11/25/16)

Dispatch 2: NH’s Lincoln Soldati at Standing Rock: ‘Police Were Relentless’ in Bismarck (Posted 11/26/16)

Dispatch 3: Standing Rock ‘Signs’ of Struggle Through NH Lens of Lincoln Soldati (Posted 11/28/16)

Dispatch 4: Soldati at Standing Rock 12/3/2016: ‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen’ (Posted 12/03/16)

UPDATED 12/05/16

‘It’s time for me to go’

By Lincoln Soldati (dictated)

At midnight the company delivered a letter to the Council and basically said, “We don’t care what the Army Corps of Engineers says. We are going ahead anyway.”

What is the government going to? They’d just fine them. They consider it the cost of doing business. I think they figure in another month it won’t matter anyway, we’ve got our guy coming in anyway. We’ll see.

I chose to leave in the middle of a blizzard. I went to the meeting this morning and listened to everything going on today. It’s time for me to go, time for me to leave. There were a couple of people I wanted to connect with and told them I was leaving.

There are things I’ve been involved in and I identified people to carry on, handing off things that need to get done like keeping the dome presentable. I wanted to go to the veterans march and I decided I don’t need to do that. I’m ready to leave.

I think they are just going to continue with the struggle. They are determined. I don’t think the Elders, the Council, are looking so much at the politics as they are at the reality of dealing with DAPL (oil company), the sheriff and the mercenaries.

They are looking for ways to stand their ground and do it peacefully, to do it with prayer.  Had I not had this trial to take care of, I am not sure what I would have decided.

I’m looking forward to seeing my wife and I’m looking forward to Portsmouth. I’m looking forward to just relaxing in my own home. It’s always nice to go home.


Lincoln Soldati

Lincoln Soldati

By Lincoln Soldati 12/04/16 (dictated)

Today, all these people linked arms and literally encircled the entire camp. It was quite something.

It’s not really clear what is happening. Obviously, whatever happened is good news, but people here are being a little cautious. They’ve seen a lot of ups and downs.

At a press conference today Council Spokesman John Bigelow was asked about what CNN and MSNBC were reporting that the Army Corps of Engineers had withdrawn the permit. He spoke to Dave Archambault and had not had time to read the entire document. He was cautiously optimistic, but reserved judgment.

The question is what does that mean? The barricades are still up. The veterans are doing their march in the morning.

I think people are clearly quite pleased, but these people have been lied to since 1851 so when somebody in the government tells them something, it doesn’t necessarily mean they believe it.

This whole thing with the veterans has been pretty amazing, just the number of people. We’re talking 1,500 and 2,000 people. Everyone is hopeful this is true, but you’ve got Trump coming into office in another month or so and he has investments in the pipeline, a personal investment in this company.

Let’s hope this is a major win. It is exciting and almost anti-climactic in a way. What do you mean? We won?

They had a sunrise service at the river this morning with about 150 clergy of all various denominations. I was involved in other things, though, like cleaning up the dome. So much is going on. It’s hard to catch everything.


Oceti Sakowin Camp (Lincoln Soldati photo)

I am thinking about coming home early. First, I want to make sure to pass on certain things to make sure they get continued. A couple of guys have arrived and have been helping me with things like cleaning and making sure the dome is presentable. I feel right now that I can leave at any time after these two weeks.

I am glad to be here, glad I came. Every day I learn something really important. It is remarkable. I fully appreciate the people here. They are completely sincere. They are fully engaged. They walk the walk, not talk the talk.

This whole concept of prayer and ceremony really is what whole thing is about.

I do have a client to get home for. When this trial is over, I’m retiring from the law. It’s unhealthy for me. Most lawyers sit at a desk staring at a computer all day. I need to be moving. What I love about my profession is jury trials, but as a defense attorney I don’t really do a lot of jury trials as I did when I was a prosecutor as it is often not in the client’s best interest to go to trial.


Preparing for the cold at Oceti Sakowin Camp. (Lincoln Soldati photo)

I feel I want to be useful, maybe hike the Appalachian Trail,  build a house from the ashes of my old one that burned down, maybe teach full-time.

There are many things to consider. I am on a quest.

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