APUSH Period 1 Review (1491-1607)

3 min readdecember 21, 2021

AP US History 🇺🇸

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Period 1: Colonization of North America (1491-1607)

In AP® US History, period 1 spans from 1491 CE to 1607 and accounts for 5% of the material on the exam. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for this period, focus on the key concepts and use the essential questions to guide you.


STUDY TIP: Use the following essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice essay questions. Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
  1. In what ways were Native American societies similar and different?
  2. What historical forces caused Europeans to conquer territories in the Americas?
  3. How did the Columbian Exchange lead to demographic shifts on both sides of the Atlantic?


*The following outline was adapted from the AP® United States History Course Description as published by College Board in 2017 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.

1.1. Native American Populations

  1. Diverse native societies adapted to their environments.
    1. Maize cultivation in Mexico & American Southwest supported communities.
    2. Great Basin & grasslands were arid, so communities were mobile.
    3. Northeast, Mississippi River, and Atlantic coast communities practiced a mix of agriculture and foraging in permanent settlements.
    4. Northwest and Pacific coast communities mostly foraged and fished.

1.2. The Columbian Exchange

🎥 Live Stream Replay: Columbus and the Legacy of Discovery
  1. Arrival of Europeans in the Americas led to massive changes for Europe.
    1. Europeans motivated by wealth accumulation, spreading Christianity, and conquering territory (god, gold, & glory).
    2. New crops from Americas increased pop in Europe, shifted feudalism to capitalism.
    3. Better technology led to more trade facilitated by joint-stock companies.
  2. Columbian Exchange had demographic consequences.
    1. Europeans brought new diseases which wiped out most Native Americans.
    2. Native Americans forced to work plantations through encomienda system.
    3. African slave trade expanded to replace declining Native American populations.
    4. Racial caste system implemented to define status of Native American and Africans
  3. Europeans and Native Americans had different world views.
    1. Conflicts between Native Americans and Europeans defined the early years.
    2. Native peoples defended their land and societies through diplomacy and military.
    3. Debates sparked among Europeans about treatment of Native peoples.
    4. Cultural differences among Europeans and Native Americans led to conflict
⚡Video: The Columbian Exchange


STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from period 1 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
  • Algonquin
  • Aztecs
  • Bartolome de las Casas
  • chattel slavery
  • Chinook
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Columbian Exchange
  • Conquistadors
  • encomienda
  • Francisco Pizarro
  • Henry Hudson
  • Hernan Cortes
  • Incas
  • Iroquois
  • Iroquois Confederation
  • Jacques Cartier
  • John Cabot
  • joint-stock companies
  • Juan de Onate
  • Juan de Sepulveda
  • Juan Ponce de Leon
  • maroons
  • Pueblo
  • Roanoke
  • Samuel de Champlain
  • sextant
  • Smallpox
  • Spanish Mission
  • St. Augustine
  • Treaty of Tordesillas
  • Vodun
  • Walter Raleigh
  • Zambo
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🌽Unit 1 – Interactions North America, 1491-1607
🦃Unit 2 – Colonial Society, 1607-1754
🔫Unit 3 – Conflict & American Independence, 1754-1800
🐎Unit 4 – American Expansion, 1800-1848
💣Unit 5 – Civil War & Reconstruction, 1848-1877
🚂Unit 6 – Industrialization & the Gilded Age, 1865-1898
🌎Unit 7 – Conflict in the Early 20th Century, 1890-1945
🥶Unit 8 – The Postwar Period & Cold War, 1945-1980
📲Unit 9 – Entering Into the 21st Century, 1980-Present
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