The Cherokee Nation suggested this week that it is racist for Jeep to keep using the name “Cherokee” for some of its best-selling SUVs.
Jeep has used the term “Cherokee” for decades.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the company’s best-selling model, and the Jeep Cherokee is the third bestseller.
The original Jeep Cherokee was introduced in 1974.
But now the American Indian tribe is demanding Jeep drop the name, arguing it is offensive to keep using its namesake.
“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,” Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, told Car and Driver. “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.”
Jeep responded and said the Cherokee name is a tribute to the Native American tribe, not an insult.
“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.,” Jeep said in a statement.
The company also offered to sit down with Hoskin, but he `that he isn’t interested in making a deal.”
“Our proud name should not be a corporate marketing tool,” Hoskin said. “Our name dates back to before recorded history. It’s against all odds that we are even here. Our name is invaluable to us as part of our identity. … In 2021, it seems wholly inappropriate for a corporation to continue to make a profit off our identity.”
The outrage against Jeep is just the latest in a string of controversies regarding Native American mascots.
The Washington Football Team, formerly known as the Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, and Land O’Lakes butter have all dropped their Native American logos in response to criticism over the past year.