Chief of Cherokee Nation asks Jeep to stop using tribe’s name on SUVs

The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name on its sport utility vehicles, arguing it seems “wholly inappropriate” in 2021 for a corporation to “continue to make a profit off our identity.”

“Our proud name should not be a corporate marketing tool,” Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, told the Detroit Free Press, adding, “Our name dates back to before recorded history. It’s against all odds that we are even here. Our name is invaluable to us as part of our identity.”

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Hoskin’s comments follow an interview he granted Car and Driver for a weekend article in which he stated it “does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car.”

According to CNBC, Jeep has used the Cherokee name for more than 45 years, including on the brand’s top-selling Grand Cherokee SUV and its smaller Cherokee, which was its third-bestselling 2020 vehicle in the United States.

And while Hoskin does not expect Jeep to immediately rename the vehicles, he told the network that the Cherokee Nation does not condone the use of the name.

“For the Jeep company, I think they look at it as something they conceived of decades ago, and I think they very much, in good faith, believe this is honoring the Cherokee people. I disagree, and we’ve had this name a bit longer than the Jeep company has,” he told CNBC.

Both the Cherokee, which is made in Belvidere, Illinois, and the larger Grand Cherokee, made at the Jefferson North plant in Detroit, represent “substantial sales” for the Jeep brand, with more than 345,000 of the SUVs sold nationwide in 2020, the Free Press reported.

In an emailed statement, Jeep told CNBC that its vehicle names “have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess and pride.” Given Hoskin’s recent comments, however, the company stated it remains “committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.”

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