The Cherokee nameplate has been a long-running moniker in the history of Jeep. While the Grand Cherokee and its smaller Cherokee brand mate are currently marketed under that name, it has been around since 1974, with the original SJ-based model. The problem, however, is that no one asked the Cherokee Indian tribe for their blessing, and the tribe is now asking Jeep to formally not use the name anymore, according to a report.
Changing Times Helped Create A Shift In Opinion
The report published by the folks at Car & Driver was penned by Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr, who serves as principal chief for the entire Cherokee tribe. Hoskin Jr’s remarks represent a bold shift in opinion by the tribe, which had previously remained mostly quiet on the issue for the past several decades. Hoskin Jr’s thoughts on the subject are represented best by a key quote in his letter where he reveals, “I’m sure this comes from a place that’s well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car.”
Hoskin Jr elaborated further, claiming, “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.”
The tribe’s move comes in the wake of broader actions in recent months, with many organizations re-evaluating and in some cases ceasing the use of offensive Native American iconography with the newly renamed Washington Football Team ditching its old moniker a few years ago.
Jeep Fires Back
Jeep, for its part, issued a response to the report claiming, “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 National Principal Chief Chuck Hoski, Jr.”
It will be interesting to see what will happen in this saga, but changing the nameplates for two models would put the brand in a very interesting bind. The Cherokee nameplate has played a very prominent part in Jeep’s history and has morphed into a prominent identifier for the off-road brand over the years. If there’s further dialogue, look for the process to take a little while, but we’re confident both sides will come to an agreement that’s best for both parties.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.