It’s no secret that there is a greater cultural conversation going on in America these days. With more focus on racial injustice and inequalities in recent years, brands and corporations are becoming more aware of their names and mascots. From Aunt Jemima and Land O Lakes butter to NFL teams and now Jeep.
For the first time, the Cherokee Nation is asking the auto company to change the name of its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles.
“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,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in a written statement.
“The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness, he continued.”
Jeep has been building cars with the Cherokee nameplate for over 45 years and has defended its decision time and time again despite protests from the Native American community. But since the reintroduction of the Jeep Cherokee line in 2013, the Cherokee Nation has voiced their concerns once again– and this time the company seems to be listening.
“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,” Chief Hoskin said in his statement.
In response to the Nation’s wishes to remove the name, Jeep said this in 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 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee remain very popular vehicles in the U.S. Together, both vehicles accounted for 40 percent of the company’s sales in 2020. That same year, Jeep also used the word Mojave for certain models of their Gladiator trucks.
In the same written statement, Hoskin said, “We hope the movement away from using tribes’ names and depictions or selling products without our consent, continues. We much prefer a cooperative effort than an adversarial one.”