Jeep may soon need to find new names for its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs. Largely driven by a shift in attitudes following 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, the sporting world has changed various Native American-themed names and images, and now Stellantis is facing a reckoning of its own.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, would rather Jeeps SUVs go under a different name. “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.
“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,” he said in a statement given to Car and Driver, adding, “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.”
In a responding statement, Jeep said:
“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, which has used the tribe’s name for over 40 years, is in a relatively good position to re-title the Grand Cherokee. The latest ‘WL’-generation version has only just been revealed in three-row form, and it won’t be on sale until later in 2021. The ‘KL’ Cherokee meanwhile has been kicking around since 2013, so should Jeep be replacing it, a next-gen version will be on the horizon.
By picking a new name, Jeep would be following in the footsteps of the NFL’s Washington Football Team and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians. The former has temporarily retitled itself while it mulls over a long-term replacement for its former ‘Redskins’ nickname, considered by the National Congress of American Indians to be a racial slur. The latter meanwhile ditched its controversial ‘Chief Wahoo’ logo in 2018 and will drop the ‘Indians’ part of its name after the 2021 season concludes.