The leader of Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name on its SUVs.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation expressed the viewpoint for the first time after Car and Driver magazine inquired whether or not the branding was appropriate in the context of the nationwide rethinking of racial and social justice issues.
“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 the magazine.
Jeep has been using the Cherokee name for nearly five decades, despite having no ties to the tribe and not consulting it on in connection with the rollout of the eponymous vehicle model, according to the report.
The Grand Cherokee SUV is its top selling model. The smaller Cherokee was its third best selling domestic model last year.
Jeep also sells a Gladiator Mojave truck. The Fort Mojave Reservation spans three southwestern states, and has no ties to the company.
“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 chief wrote to the magazine.
The statement comes after a year that saw Cleveland’s big league baseball team and Washington DC’s pro football team move to drop their team names over accusations of racial insensitivity and pressure from major sponsors.
“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,” Hoskin told Car and Driver.
Jeep responded by claiming its SUVs honor the Cherokee Nation.
“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,” Jeep wrote to the magazine.
“We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.,” the statement continued.