- The chief chief of the Cherokee community asked the Jeep Automotive Company to remove the name of his tribe from its 4×4 vehicles.
- The company that created the Jeep Grand Cherokee declared itself willing to “open and respectful dialogue” with the indigenous leader, but Hoskin maintains his position.
When we type the word ‘Cherokee’ in a search engine, most of the results are related to the famous vehicle of the Jeep brand. The same happens with other words derived from American Indian languages such as Apache, Pontiac and Cheyenne , among others, that are used commercially. For this reason, several native groups in the United States have raised their voices to give visibility to their peoples and prevent their culture and identity from being reduced to a consumer product.
In this context, Chuck Hoskin Jr., chief chieftain of the Cherokee tribe , called on the Jeep automaker to stop using his community’s name on its off-road vehicles. Specifically, these are the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUV models, which have been bearing that name for 45 years.
“I think we are in a time in this country where it is time for both corporations and team sports to withdraw the use of Native American names, images and mascots from their products, team jerseys and sports in general ,” Hoskin Jr. in a statement.
“I’m sure they mean well, but we are not honored to have our name taped to the side of a car,” added the Cherokee leader.
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The company was not indifferent to the claims and was willing to dialogue with the native representative.
“The names of our vehicles have been carefully selected and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native Americans for their nobility, craftsmanship and pride ,” Jeep said in a statement. “We are, more than ever, committed to an open and respectful dialogue with the Cherokee Nation’s chief director, Chuck Hoskin Jr.” the company added.
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They ask for respect for their identity
An Indian people official revealed that Jeep representatives contacted the tribal chief earlier this month. However, Hoskin sees no possibility of agreement, as he considers it unacceptable that Jeep continues to use the community’s name on its 4x4s.
“It is one of the most valuable things. It is part of our identity. (…) And if we wanted to match who had the strongest claim, connection and affinity for the Cherokee name, it would certainly be the Cherokee people , ”the indigenous chief told CNN Business .
For his part, Cobb-Greetham , a member of the Chickasaw tribe, said that “if you are going to honor someone, give them an award. If you are going to name a product, you are selling it ” .
The Jeep Cherokee was launched in 1974, while the Grand Cherokee arrived in 1993. The original Cherokee model line was dropped in 2001, but the name was reintroduced in 2013 on a new compact SUV. The native Cherokee, however, have borne that name for centuries, long before Europeans came to the United States in the 16th century.
Jeep could follow the example of other brands
The automotive company is not the only one that has entered into controversy with the indigenous communities, due to the use of their symbols and language.
- Washington Redskins (Washington Redskins). During the summer of 2020, the NFL team announced that they would be changing their name and will now be called Washington Football Team.
- Cleveland Indians. The Ohio-based baseball team also reported that it plans to change its name.
- Land O’Lakes. The dairy firm removed the image of a Native American woman from its labels.