University of California, Riverside

California Center for the Native Nations

About the California Center for Native Nations


Purpose of the California Center for Native Nations (CCNN)

The California Center for Native Nations (CCNN) is a research center of the University of California located on the Riverside campus, which is situated in the heart of California Indian country.

The center initiates, facilitates, and executes research by, about, and with American Indian people with a strong focus on California Native Nations. The center is dedicated to preserving the history, culture, language, and sovereignty of California’s First Nations through exemplary research.  The center also serves tribes by connecting them with the expertise found within the University of California to solve research problems unique to Native nations.  The center focuses on unique and innovative research that leads to new interpretations that will influence the course of American Indian Studies.

History of the California Center for Native Nations

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) has two campuses — one in Riverside and one in Palm Desert — located on and near the homelands of the Cahuilla, Serrano, Chemehuevi, Luiseño, Kumeyaay, Cupeño, and Tongva Indians.

Rupert Costo (Cahuilla) and Jeannette Henry Costo (Cherokee) helped found UC Riverside in the mid-20th century. In 1986, the Costos created the Costo Chair of American Indian Affairs at UCR, the first chair in the nation endowed directly by American Indians. Later, they established the Costo Library of the American Indian and Costo Archives, a unique collection dedicated to understanding the history and role of self-determination policy in Indian Country.

Inspired by the generosity and vision of Rupert and Jeannette Costo, the California Center for Native Nations (CCNN) represents UC Riverside’s ongoing commitment to research and service benefiting California Indians. In building upon the academic strengths of the university and UCR’s unique connections with regional tribal leaders, the center’s core activities address a central question:

“How can tribal governments in California maximize their sovereign rights in ways that are culturally appropriate, economically sustainable and politically interactive?”

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

California Center for the Native Nations

Michelle Raheja
Director, CCNN

Tel: (951) 827-1799

Emily M. Rankin
Senior Director, Development

Tel: (951) 827-4365

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