It is time for Jeep to stop using the Cherokee Nation’s name on its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs, the chief of the Oklahoma-based tribe has said.
Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr said in a statement, which was first reported by Car & Driver magazine, that he believes corporations and sports teams should stop using Native American names, images and mascots as nicknames or on their products.
“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 said.
The statement marked the first time that the Cherokee Nation had called for the change since Jeep first began using “Cherokee” on its vehicles in the 1970s, according to Car & Driver.
Kristin Starnes, a spokesperson for Jeep’s parent company, the Amsterdam-based Stellantis, said in a statement that the vehicle name was carefully selected “and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess and pride”.
She did not say whether the company was considering renaming the vehicles and did not immediately reply to an email requesting that information.
Hoskin says the best way to honor the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based tribe is to learn more about its history.
“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,” Hoskin said.
The controversy comes amid a national reckoning over the use of Native American names and images, particularly in sports.
After years of resistance and under pressure from corporate sponsors, the NFL’s Washington DC franchise announced last year that it was dropping its “Redskins” nickname and Indian head logo and would go by the name Washington Football Team until a permanent replacement was chosen. Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians also announced last year that it would change its name.
Hoskin made reference to such changes in his statement to Car & Driver.
“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.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
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