The chief of the Cherokee Nation has asked Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name on its SUVs.
In a statement to Car and Driver, Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said it’s about time.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
The Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are two of Jeep’s best-selling vehicles and together made up more than 40% of Jeep’s total sales in 2020, according to Car and Driver. The company’s been using the name since the 1970s.
“Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honour and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride,” the carmaker said in a statement to Car and Driver.
“We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation principal chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.”
Hoskin told CNN the name was part of their identity and the tribe had a stronger claim to it.
“It’s one of the most valuable things. It’s a part of our identity. And if we wanted to match up who had the stronger claim and connection and affinity for the Cherokee name it would certainly be the Cherokee people,” he said.
The Cleveland Indians announced last year they’d change their name after 105 years, following decades of campaigning by Native Americans.
Among other organizations that have recently rebranded or repackaged are Land O’Lakes, which removed an image of a Native American woman from its label, Uncle Ben’s rice, and Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix.