The Cherokee Nation has called for Jeep to rebrand its 4WD models that have used the name of the nation for more than 45 years, with Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. saying “it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car”.
Speaking to US-based Car and Driver magazine, Hoskin called for both the ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Grand Cherokee’ car models to be rebranded, ahead of the launch of the 2022 Grand Cherokee, as they do not honour the Cherokee Nation, a sovereign tribal government based in Oklahoma.
“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,” Hoskin 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.”
According to the magazine, the statement from the nation’s chief marked the first time it has ever called for Jeep to rebrand the car since it began using ‘Cherokee’ in the 1970s.
In that time, Car and Driver reports, the carmaker has on several occasions defended its use of Native American nations on its cars.
The Cherokee label of vehicles was reintroduced to the US in 2013. Since then, the Cherokee Nation has gone on record but never explicitly called for Jeep to rebrand the model.
Kristin Starnes, a spokesperson for Jeep’s parent company Stellantis, said in a statement to The Guardian that the vehicle name had been carefully selected “and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess and pride”.
It comes amid a reckoning across the US over the use of Native American names, particularly in sport, with the NFL’s Washington DC franchise announcing last year that it was dropping its “Redskins” nickname and Indian head logo, and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians also announcing last year that it would change its name.
Hoskin referenced these changes in his statement to Car and Driver.
“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.
It also comes amid more recent controversy for Jeep over its Super Bowl commercial, which used Bruce Springsteen despite the singer-songwriter, at the time, awaiting a court hearing over DUI charges.
After Springsteen’s charges were dropped, the ad, titled ‘The Middle’, was again made available for viewing on Jeep’s official YouTube channel and website—but not after Jeep reuploaded the video.
Featured image source: iStock/blinow61
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