With cultural appropriation currently being targeted and called out by the cultures that have been appropriated, the Cherokee Nation has now weighed in asking multinational auto manufacturer Stellantis N.V. to stop using the tribe’s name on their Jeep brand.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the auto maker’s best-selling model, while the Jeep Cherokee is its third best-selling. Jeep recently unveiled a redesigned version of the Grand Cherokee, and the company has sold SUVs under the Cherokee brand name for about 45 years.
“I think we’re in a day and age in this country where it’s time for both corporations and team sports to retire the use of Native American names, images and mascots from their products, team jerseys and sports in general.I’m sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car,” Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation said in a written statement.
Hoskin initially sent the statement to Car and Driver, which first reported on the news.
In his statement, Chief Hoskin alluded to the mainstreaming of racial justice concepts, “I think we’re in a day and age in this country where it’s time for both corporations and team sports to retire the use of Native American names, images and mascots from their products, team jerseys and sports in general.”
Jeep replied with a statement, “Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride. We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.”
The changes have been a long time coming, but rushed to the forefront after last summer’s George Floyd and BLM demonstrations.
As a result, brands and sports teams responded. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben have gone away. Last summer, the Washington Redskins announced it would drop its name and call itself the Washington Football Team.
The Jeep Cherokee was first introduced in 1974. The Grand Cherokee, with a followed in 1993. The original Cherokee model line was dropped in 2001, but the name was reintroduced in 2013 on a new compact SUV.
From 2002 through 2013 the cars were known as the Liberty in the North American market. When Jeep brought the Cherokee name back to its U.S. in 2013, a Cherokee Nation representative told the New York Times, “We have encouraged and applauded schools and universities for dropping offensive mascots,” but that “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”