The Jeep Cherokee may be no more. The Cherokee Nation would like Jeep to stop using the name “Cherokee” in both of its uses of the moniker -- the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee.
“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, told Car and Driver.
"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."
Jeep has been building cars that bear the Cherokee Nation's name since its introduction in 1974 by American Motors. Over the course of its 47-year history, Jeep has publicly defended its decision to use the name of a Native American nation on its cars.
When Jeep brought back the brand name in 2013 after a 12-year hiatus, Car and Driver said the Cherokee nation spoke out against the decisions. However, it never expressly asked Jeep to find a name other than “Cherokee” for its vehicles.
Jeep also has a brand named Mojave, the name of another Native American people indigenous to the Colorado River in the Mojave Desert.
The request is tied to racial justice issues
This situation is very similar to issues in Cleveland and Washington D.C. -- which have used the terms “Indians” and “Redskins” for their professional sports franchises. However, the Washington Football Team has officially dropped the moniker, and Cleveland seems poised to follow suit.
Chief Hoskin alluded to the mainstreaming of racial justice concepts following the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
"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 said in his statement.