Jeep’s CEO, Christian Meunier, was on a podcast this week and gave his thoughts on a few topics. While the main topic of conversation was Jeep moving toward electric vehicles, the Cherokee Nation/Jeep Cherokee name came up. Wouldn’t it be a good time for Jeep to change the name of the Jeep Cherokee? Meunier thinks that is not necessary.
The history on Jeep, Stellantis, and the Jeep Cherokee SUV
Meunier was recently on the Decoder with Nilay Patel podcast to discuss how Jeep is going electric. But let’s back up a little bit first. In February, Chuck Hoskin Jr., Chief Of Cherokee Nation, told Jeep it was time to rename the Jeep Cherokee.
According to a New York Times piece from February, Chief Hoskin offered a respectful request. “The use of Cherokee names and imagery for peddling products doesn’t deepen the country’s understanding of what it means to be Cherokee, and I think it diminishes it somewhat.”
Stellantis, the owner of Jeep, responded in turn, saying that Jeep carefully chose the name to honor the Native American people. Both groups are committed to keeping a respectful and open dialogue about the situation.
Wouldn’t this be a good time to change the Jeep Cherokee
It seemed that Chief Hoskin was pretty clear in wanting the Cherokee name removed from the lackluster SUV, but Jeep wasn’t ready to accept that. In the Decoder podcast, Meunier was asked about the situation at around 52:41 of the interview. Jalopnik transcribed the conversation.
The discussion happened to take place on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which was quite serendipitous. Nilay Patel asked about the situation and if Jeep had any plans to stop using the Cherokee name. Meunier said the company was having weekly conversations with the Cherokee Nation and were being very respectful of the group. He went on to say that Jeep and the Cherokee Nation formed a good relationship, and the discussions were ongoing.
Patel pushed a bit more and said that since a new version of the Jeep Cherokee was coming out, wouldn’t it be a good time to change the name? “We love the name. We think it’s a big name. And, we’ve heard a lot of people from the nation that love the name. They think it’s an honor to have their nation’s name on a great car,” Meunier said. So how did the Cherokee Nation respond to Meunier’s warm and fuzzy response?
It is fairly clear that the feeling is not mutual
A Cherokee Nation spokesperson responded to this comment in turn and didn’t hold back.
“The Cherokee Nation has had a few calls and/or virtual meetings with the Stellantis leadership, the last one in June, 2021. Chief Hoskin has publicly commented on the Cherokee name for marketing/branding by corporations as well as the harm Native mascots create for schools and in team sports. Those views have not changed. Neither Chief Hoskin or anyone in his administration has ever expressed the idea that the company’s use of our name is a great honor.”Cherokee Nation via Jalopnik
There aren’t many ways to interpret that response. It seems pretty clear that Jeep could rename the Jeep Cherokee any number of ways that wouldn’t upset a large group of people. The ball is in Jeep’s court for now, not that the automaker seems to care.
Thus far, Jeep has not responded to that and probably won’t because all is fine in the Stellantis/Jeep world. Will the Jeep Cherokee get a new name? Probably not. Who is even the targeted market for the SUV anyway? No one, according to recent sales numbers.