Popé is one of 47 Native Americans who were accused, arrested and tried for practicing "sorcery" in 1675. Three of the men who were found guilty were taken to their respective villages; two were hanged. One hanged himself before the Spanish could. The remaining 44 were publicly whipped and sentenced to prison.
When word of this reached the Pueblo leaders they moved in force to Santa Fe, where the prisoners were being held. The Spanish governor, Juan Francisco de Treviño, released the prisoners because a large number of his soldiers were away from Santa Fe fighting the Apache.
Popé returned home, deeply angered by what had happened. Shortly thereafter, he moved north to Taos Pueblo, where the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 is believed to have been planned. The Pueblo Revolt sought to expel Spanish settlers from the traditional Puebloan lands and preserve the traditional Pueblo way of life. The revolt succeeded, driving the Spanish from virtually all of New Mexico
In 1692, following Popé's death, Spanish control was reasserted, but under much more lenient terms. During this new era, the Spanish no longer actively attempt to eradicate the Pueblo languages and religion, which still flourish today.
For this reason the people of New Mexico chose to honor Popé by erecting his statue in Washington D.C. The statue by Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua was dedicated in the rotunda of the United States Capitol on September 22, 2005. It is one of two statues presented by New Mexico to the National Statuary Hall Collection.