Stellantis faces criticism for the use of “Cherokee” on two Jeep’s most popular SUVs.
After the Cherokee Native American tribe’s principal chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. asked Stellantis to change the name on Jeep’s iconic SUV last month in an interview with Car & Driver, saying he ‘does not condone’ its use on the company’s vehicles, company CEO Carlos Tavares told The Wall Street Journal this week he’s open to changing the Cherokee name.
“We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and no intermediaries,” Tavares said in this latest interview. He acknowledged the company is in talks with the Cherokee Nation on the subject. While he was not personally involved, he went on by saying, “At this stage, I don’t know if there is a real problem. But if there is one, of course we will solve it.” That suggests Jeep could drop the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee names in favor of something less contentious, though no official action is publicly in the works just yet.
Tavares’ statements are in response to Hoskin’s comments made two weeks ago. “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” — the latter alluding to the Washington Football Team’s former use of the “Redskins” name, which it retired in 2020. “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. 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’s position so far
For its part, Jeep has so far maintained a position intent on keeping the Cherokee name intact. Over nearly half a century that the name has been in use, the brand has defended using it, through the Grand Cherokee’s uninterrupted 30-year history and the Cherokee KL’s relaunch in 2013. In its original statement to Car & Driver, Stellantis said that, “Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride. We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.”
At this point, Stellantis has not elaborated any further on that comment. Tavares said further in the Wall Street Journal interview, “I don’t see anything that would be negative here. I think it’s just a matter of expressing our creative passion, our artistic capabilities.”