A top Jeep executive said Wednesday he would be open to dropping the Cherokee name from the company’s line of vehicles after the Cherokee Nation demanded that Jeep stop using it.
Carlos Taveres, the CEO of Jeep’s parent company Stellantis, told the Wall Street Journal that Jeep has been involved in ongoing discussions with the Native-American tribe to figure out a solution that pleases both parties.
“We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries,” Tavares said. “At this stage, I don’t know if there is a real problem. But if there is one, well, of course we will solve it.”
He said that car manufacturers like Jeep named products after Native-American tribes as a sign of respect, and insisted the name was not meant to be offensive.
“I don’t see anything that would be negative here,” he added. “I think it’s just a matter of expressing our creative passion, our artistic capabilities.”
The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, however, disagreed.
Chuck Hoskin Jr. called for Jeep to drop the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee name from its vehicles last month, saying, “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.”
Hoskin argued that it doesn’t matter whether Jeep used the Cherokee name to show the tribe respect.
“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,” he said.
So far, Jeep has shown no sign of backing down.
“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,” Stellantis said in a statement last week.
“We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.,” the automobile manufacturer added.
Facing conservative backlash, the company quickly pulled the expensive ad, ostensibly following reports of a drunken-driving offense that the “Born in the USA” singer committed last year.