Rupert Costo (1906 – October 20, 1989) was a full-blooded Cahuilla Indian and an American Indian author, publisher, philanthropist and founder of the American Indian Historical Society. He had many careers and avocations throughout his life, including farmer, cattle rancher, surveyor, and mineralogist. He also served as an engineer for the California Division of Highways for nearly 20 years.
Costo was born in Hemet, California, and was raised on the nearby Cahuilla Reservation. He attended Riverside City College in the 1920s along with classmate John Gabbert, who ultimately became a Superior Court Judge. Following his time at Riverside Community College, he attended Whittier College and then the University of Nevada.
Costo was key in the establishment of the Anza Soil Conservation District, now known as the Elsinore-Murrieta-Anza Resource Conservation District.
Native American advocacy
Costo served as a member of the governing board of Cahuilla Reservation for more than 20 years and its spokesman for 8 years. He also served as a lobbyist fighting for Native American land rights for two years in Washington, D.C. and was a member of the American Indian Federation in the late 1930s.
He founded the American Indian Historical Society in 1950 in an effort to ensure scholarly examination of Native American lives as opposed to the stereotypes so prevalent in United States' society at the time. As part of the same efforts, he and his wife, Jeannette Costo, founded the scholarly journal The Indian Historian as well as the popular press periodical Wassaja.
University of California, Riverside advocacy
Marriage and children
Rupert Costo was married to Jeannette Henry Costo, a reporter for The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, and The Plain Dealer, in 1954. Mrs. Costo was a Cherokee Indian and a Native American activist in her own right. She died on July 27, 1998.
Death and afterward
Rupert Costo died on October 20, 1989, at his home in San Francisco, California.
His extensive personal library documenting the Native American experience in the United States was donated to the University of California Riverside Libraries in May 1986. The Costo Chair in American Indian History at the University of California, Riverside, was named in his honor.
- Textbooks and the American Indian (1970)
- Indian Voices: the Native American Today (1974)
- Indian Treaties: Two Centuries of Dishonor (1977) 
- A Thousand Years of American Indian Storytelling (1981)
- The Mission of California: A Legacy of Genocide (1987)
- Natives of the Golden State: The California Indians (1995)
Costo was named the Riverside Community College Alumni of the Year.
- Erickson, Jan. Transcription of an Oral History Interview with Jeannette Costo, University of California, Riverside, July 27, 1998. Retrieved November 23, 2013
- Starr, Raymond. "The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide. Book Review." The Journal of San Diego History, Volume 35, Number 3, Summer 1989. Retrieved 1989
- Sahagun, Louis (May 2, 1986). "Indians Pull Up Scholarly Chair at UC Riverside". Los Angeles Times.
- Yetzer, Carl (May 10, 1986). "UCR receives Indian library at ceremony". The San Bernardino Sun.
- "Rupert Costo; American Indian Scholar Who Fought Stereotypes". Los Angeles Times. October 23, 1989. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
- "Indian books and artifacts donated to UC Riverside". The San Bernardino Sun. October 29, 1985.
- Hauptman, Laurence M. (November 1983). "The American Indian Federation and the Indian New Deal: A Reinterpretation". Pacific Historical Review. 52 (4): 384. JSTOR 3639073.
- Chambers, Ian (2001). "The History of Native American Studies at the University of California Riverside". Indigenous Nations Studies Journal. 2 (2): 83–94.
- "American Indian historians will speak at UCR today". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, Calif. May 8, 1986.