The Chief of the Cherokee Nation has called on automobile manufacturer Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name for its line of SUVs.
In a statement first shared by Car & Driver, Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said that the practice of using Native American tribe names by companies in general should cease, pointing out the Cherokee line of vehicles as a particularly close-to-home example.
“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, Jr. said. “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.”
Jeep began manufacturing vehicles under the Cherokee name nearly 50 years ago. The name briefly disappeared, as the company sold the line under the name Liberty from 2002 to 2013. The name was reintroduced in 2013. At the time, the Cherokee Nation declined to weigh in on the decision. Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton told the New York Times that she wished the brand had consulted with the sovereign nation within Oklahoma. However, she noted that “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”
That has since changed, as public pressure campaigns have moved businesses to back away from their long-held trademarks. The most notable example of this comes from the Washington Football Team, who had played for decades under a slur for Native American people. Hoskin alluded to this in his statement.
“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.