Earlier this week, Car and Driver spoke with the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, Jr., about the names of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs. While the Cherokee Nation has long been opposed to cultural appropriation and naming concerns (note the Cherokee Nation spokesperson’s comments at the Cherokee’s 2013 reintroduction), the statement provided to Car and Driver is the first time the Nation has called directly on Jeep to change the name of its SUVs.
In the statement, Hoskin said, “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. 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 … 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.” We have reached out to the Cherokee Nation for possible further comment.
The move comes following a number of naming controversies (and renaming decisions) in recent years, notably Washington, D.C. ‘s NFL club (which spent the 2020 season known solely as the Washington Football Team) and Cleveland’s Major League Baseball club, both of which have retired their offensive names and mascots.
Automobiles named after indigenous groups are nothing new. Jeep itself used to sell vehicles named after the Comanche tribe, and the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Touareg are still on sale abroad.
A Jeep brand spokesperson provided the following to MotorTrend in response to the Cherokee Nation’s 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. “
At this time, there is no report such dialogue has commenced or will in the near future, nor does the statement indicate Jeep is open to changing the name of the vehicles in question. The company recently introduced the 2021 Grand Cherokee L, the next-generation long-wheelbase version of the SUV.
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