One of the most popular vehicles on the planet is being asked to change its name. Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, says it is time that Jeep stop using his tribe's name to sell its SUVs.
"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," Hoskin said in an interview.
The original Jeep Cherokee was first sold in 1974 and has remained one of the company's best-selling brands since then. The Cherokee is currently the third in sales for Jeep, while the Grand Cherokee remains atop the list.
In the wake of many sports teams changing their names and imagery away from Native American iconography, activists like Hoskin feel that it is time automobile companies follow the same path.
"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 principal chief 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."
In the NFL, the Washington Football Team changed its name last year from the Redskins moniker that was considered racist by some. In Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians are moving away from their nickname and mascot. Even Land O'Lakes butter removed its logo featuring a Native American woman.
Though it said it was willing to dialogue with the tribe, Jeep does not seem prepared to give up the iconic name too easily. In a statement, the company made clear that its intention is to "honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride" when naming vehicles after them.