Should Jeep Change the Name of Its Midsize SUV?
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For years, pressure has mounted for sports teams and corporations to stop their exploitation of Native American names and imagery for marketing purposes. And in the last few years, some organizations have finally started listening.
Baseball and football teams have changed their names, mascots have been retired, and scholarship programs have been put in place to honor First Nations. Change has come, and it’s about time.
So then why does Jeep continue the practice? Since March, the Cherokee Nation has formally asked that Jeep remove its name from the automaker’s products. So far, the Stellantis-owned brand has refused to comply.
Jeep is facing some pressure to change the name of one of its models.
The problem with Jeep’s use of the “Cherokee” name
For the last 45 years, Jeep has used the Native American Nation’s name in one form or another—without ever asking for permission to do so.
Currently, it’s attached to two models, the Grand Cherokee and Cherokee—Jeep’s best- and third-best-selling vehicles, respectively. Car and Driver says that since 2020, the company has also named a trim of their Gladiator truck after the Mojave Nation of Arizona, again without permission.
Some First Nations have partnered with organizations and given permission to share their name. The Seminole Tribe, for example, allows Florida State University to use their name for sports teams because of an agreement between both parties.
In the past, the Cherokee Nation did not comment on the use of its tribal name by Jeep. But now that their silence is broken, it seems disrespectful for Jeep to continue “plastering it on the side of a car,” as Chuck Hoskin, Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, put it, no matter how much money the company thinks the name makes them.
Could positive change be in Jeep’s future?
While Jeep’s decision to use the Cherokee name remains stubborn, the automaker’s parent company, Stellantis, says it is open to ending the nameplate and that discussions between the First Nations tribe are ongoing.
That said, comments made to the Wall Street Journal by Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares don’t seem very promising. “At this stage, I don’t know if there is a real problem,” he was quoted saying. “But if there is one, well, of course, we will solve it.”
Movement on the Jeep Cherokee’s name still looks doubtful, but Jeep is moving forward in other socially positive ways. The car brand recently announced its plans to be “the greenest SUV brand in the world,” according to Green Car Reports.
Details on making that happen are still thin, but Jeep CEO Christian Meunier says the company will have a fully electric option in every SUV segment by 2025.
Alternatives to the Jeep Cherokee
If the idea of buying an SUV with a name from a Native American tribe leaves a bad taste in your mouth, there are many other models to choose from.
American brands like Ford, Chevy, and Dodge all have comparable options to the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Brands from overseas like Honda, Kia, and Volkswagen make many of their SUVs in the U.S. too, so you can support your community and country when you buy them as well.
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