The Pueblo Revolt: APUSH Topics to Study for Test Day

The Pueblo Revolt was a 1680 uprising of the Pueblo Indians against the Spanish who ruled the southwest. In preparing to answer Pueblo Revolt APUSH questions, you should be familiar with Spanish patterns of colonization that led to this uprising, as well as the consequences of the revolt.

What is the Pueblo Revolt?

For many years, the Spanish dominated the New World. They pushed northward into what is now the southwestern United States. When they reached New Mexico, however, they faced their greatest resistance—in the form of the Pueblo Revolt.

The Spanish, led by infamous conquistador Juan de Oñate, had invaded the region and established a colony in New Mexico in 1598. They responded to native resistance with cruelty and terror. You won’t need to know the gory details to answer Pueblo Revolt APUSH questions, but if you’re curious, the Gilder Lehrman Institute has a good account of the gruesome treatment the Pueblos were subjected to.

The Pueblos suffered greatly under the Spanish encomienda system, a forced labor system that essentially amounted to slavery. In addition, many of their cultural traditions were prohibited, including their religion as they were violently forced to convert to Catholicism.

Eventually, the Pueblos organized and retaliated. In 1680, a force of 8,000 led by Popé attacked their Spanish overlords. The large-scale, coordinated attack was too much for the Spanish to resist. Survivors fled and Popé established himself as leader of the new Pueblo confederacy from the capital in Santa Fe.

The group successfully maintained independence from Spanish for a dozen years. After Popé’s death in 1692, however, the organization crumbled and the Spanish were able to retake the region.

Important years to note for the Pueblo Revolt:

  • 1680: Pueblo Revolt
  • 1692: Popé’s death results in Spanish reconquest of New Mexico

Why is the Pueblo Revolt so important?

The Pueblo Revolt was the largest and most successful Native American uprising in North American history. It pointed to problems inherent in the Spanish style of colonization, as well as to the power that Native Americans could wield through collective resistance. Popé is still regarded as a hero among the tribes of New Mexico today.

What are some historical people and events related to the Pueblo Revolt?

  • Juan de Oñate: conquistador who established Spanish colony in New Mexico
  • Popé: leader of the Pueblo Revolt

What example question about the Pueblo Revolt might come up on the APUSH exam?

Pueblo Revolt APUSH- Magoosh
Statue of Popé by Cliff Fragua (Source)

Popé’s greatest success in the Pueblo Revolt was to
A) unify and coordinate a large and diverse group.
B) permanently expel the Spanish from New Mexico.
C) put an end to the encomienda system of labor.
D) hold off Spanish forces when greatly outnumbered.


The correct answer is (A). The main reason that the Pueblo Revolt was successful was that Popé was able to launch a highly-coordinated assault on the Spanish by a large group spread over a large geographic area. The Pueblos were able to drive the Spanish from the area and gain control, even if it was only for a few years.

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  • Sarah Bradstreet

    Sarah is an educator and writer with a Master’s degree in education from Syracuse University who has helped students succeed on standardized tests since 2008. She loves reading, theater, and chasing around her two kids.

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