The Washington Post published an article on Sunday that called on the care manufacturer Jeep to drop the name of its very popular “Cherokee” SUV line.
“Remedying the harms of the past will require more than simply changing a name or a logo, but it is a first step toward ensuring that racial stereotypes are retired to the annals of history,” Angela R. Riley, a law professor at UCLA, Sonia K. Katyal, a law professor at UC-Berkeley, and Rachel Lim, a doctoral candidate at UC-Berkeley, wrote in the article.
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr., pointed out in a recent statement to Car and Drive that Jeep is not honoring the nation “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 CEO Carlos Tavares has stated that the company was open to changing the names of the two models of car, the Grand Cherokee and the Cherokee compact SUV.
“We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries,” Tavares said when asked if he’d be willing to change the name, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“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 stated but noted that he was not currently involved in any talks.
The Washington Post article says Jeep “never even bothered to contact the Cherokee Nation– and its first response to the request to drop the Cherokee name was to praise itself for choosing names that ‘celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride’.”
Riley, Katyal, and Lim stated that Jeep and other companies like Apple, which named an operating system ‘Mojave’ and North Face which sells Chilkat insulated boots benefit from the identities of indigenous people.
In each case, non-Indigenous entities benefit financially from the brand identity provided by Indigenous terms and names– commonly offering nothing to the Indian nations upon which these identities are based.”
“By removing tribal names from their histories, lands, contexts, and cultures, they obscure contemporary Native American nations. They also sanitize complex histories of racial and colonial harm.”
The article also argues that the alleged “cultural appropriation” is “intimately linked to the rise of radicalized marketing.”