Chief of Cherokee Nation Calls on Jeep to Change Automotive Names

It's an understandable argument

Jeep Cherokee
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee makes its debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.
Getty Images

In the last year, Washington’s NFL team recently announced that they’d be changing their name to something not considered a racist term; the Cleveland Indians are also in the process of a high-profile process of changing their name. Both are a long time coming, but they’re also far from the only instances of the names of Indigenous peoples or nations being appropriated.

Now, the chief of the Cherokee Nation has raised an objection to another such instance, calling on automaker Jeep to change the names of the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Car and Driver reports that Chuck Hoskin, Jr. — elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 2019 — has made the request.

“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,” Hoskin told Car and Driver.

Jeep began using the Cherokee name in 1974 and revived the name in North America in 2013. As Car and Driver notes, the Jeep Cherokee was known as the Jeep Liberty in North America from 2002 to 2013, so it’s not as though Jeep hasn’t already tried out an alternate name — nor is it the case that they don’t have a perfectly solid replacement for the Cherokee name that they could use.

When Jeep initially brought back the Cherokee name for their vehicles, The New York Times found, unsurprisingly, that the Cherokee Nation was not exactly thrilled about it. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least,” spokeswoman Amanda Clinton said in 2013.

Jeep’s response to the Cherokee Nation’s most recent statement gave little ground. “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,” they said — and referenced the importance of “a respectful and open dialogue.” We’ll see where that dialogue leads.

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