The Eyes of the Army: Indian Scouts and the Rise of Military Innovation during the Apache Wars

This talk explores the question: How has the US-Mexico border become a militarized war zone replete with virtual walls and surveillance? Rather than consider the migrant threat as key to this question, Felicity goes back to the Southwest Indian wars to consider how the control of Apache fugitives structured the development of military innovations in surveillance. While Indian scouts were dubbed “the eyes of the army,” Apache visionary practices with land had the power to aid or disorient military control of the Southwest border region. At the same time, Apache and other Native skills maneuvering the land were tied to centuries of adaptations to all the forces of land Felicity calls a “sacredscience.” Their animated vision and communication across space constituted a powerful tie to land that was dangerous to military-backed settler belonging. Early military innovations, such as the heliograph and binoculars, were created to extend settler seeing in order to track down, contain, and replace Apache fugitives in frontier regions considered remote, wile, untamable, and hostile to the civilizational might of settler presence.