Jeep CEO Is ‘Open’ To Dropping Cherokee Name After Criticism from Cherokee Nation

by Will Shepard

The CEO of Jeep’s parent company is apparently open to changing the name of their Cherokee car. After criticism arose from a leader in the Cherokee Nation, the company is now reconsidering the name of its popular car.

On Wednesday, Carlos Tavares, who is the head of Stellantis NV, told the Wall Street Journal that the company is talking about the name change. The change comes after the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation spoke with CNN. Chuck Hoskin Jr. made it explicitly clear that the Cherokee Nation wants a change.

During his correspondence with CNN, he says that he wants Jeep to change the name of its SUV. He says that the car “does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car.”

Jeep CEO Says That He Is Open to Changing the Name of Its SUV

So, Tavares is meeting with Jeep and says that the company is in ongoing talks with the Native American tribe. He says that originally, car manufacturers were naming cars after tribes as a sign of respect. But, a lot has changed since Jeep named its car after the Cherokee Nation.

“We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries. At this stage, I don’t know if there is a real problem. But if there is one, well, of course, we will solve it.” 

Tavares is making public statements about changing the name of the Jeep car. But, it is important to note that he is not involved in the talks with the Cherokee Nation. Nevertheless, his comments are not all necessarily positive. It seems that on the surface the intentions are good, but there is more than meets the eye.

“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.”

Back and Forth With the Chief of Cherokee Nation

This was the first time that Hoskin had asked Jeep to change the name of its SUV. He does understand that it may come from a place of respect but thinks it is high time for a change.

“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. 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 world is slowly transitioning away from using Native American names and symbols. But Jeep falls into the category of companies still using insensitive nomenclature. In another interview, Hoskin explains this further.

“The use of Cherokee names and imagery for peddling products doesn’t deepen the country’s understanding of what it means to be Cherokee, and I think it diminishes it somewhat.”

So, in response to the comments, Jeep CEO and Stellantis are trying to salvage their image. But, they want it known that the name of their car is certainly out of respect, not malice.

“Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and 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.”

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is easily their best-selling car, so changing the name likely won’t be easy. But, at least the company is creating a dialogue with the Cherokee Nation.