The iconic Jeep Cherokee brand may be coming to an end but not because it isn’t selling. Both the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee have been proudly associated with Jeep for decades. They account for over 40% of Jeep sales annually. At issue is the use of a tribal name for a product, as has been announced by the Cherokee Nation Chief.
Cherokee Nation objects to the use of the Cherokee name and has requested Jeep find another
Cherokee Nation objects to the use of the name and has requested Jeep find another name. This comes at a time when requests like this aimed at professional sports teams have taken hold. With this traction behind it the request now has precedent.
“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,” said the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, Jr, to 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 a history of appropriating Native American names for certain models. Comanche has been used for a past Jeep pickup and is originally a tribe in the Great Plains. Mojave comes from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe covering parts of Arizona, California, and Nevada. It is used for one of the current Gladiator’s trim levels.
It’s time for both corporations and team sports to retire Native American names
“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,” Chief Hoskin added.
In response, a Jeep spokesperson says in a 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.”
Washington Redskins are already in the process of changing its name
The Washington Redskins are already in the process of changing its name. Right now it is just called the Washington Football Team. The Atlanta Braves professional baseball team is the next team to be looking at a name change. Both the Chicago Blackhawks NHL hockey team and the Cleveland Indians baseball franchises are also weighing different names for replacement. So, too, is the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2005 began prohibiting schools around the country from using names, symbols, or mascots associated with Native Americans. The dairy company that makes Land O’ Lakes butter no longer features the Native American woman on its packaging.
Amanda Cobb-Greetham, professor and director of the University of Oklahoma Native Nations Center responded to Jeep’s statement. She countered, “If you’re going to honor somebody, give them an award. If you’re going to name a product after them, you’re selling.”