Top Jeep executive open to dropping Cherokee name

Top Jeep executive open to dropping Cherokee name

The CEO of Jeep parent company Stellantis said Wednesday he would be open to dropping the Cherokee name from its line of vehicles following calls to do so late last month from the leader of the Cherokee Nation. 

Carlos Tavares, who serves as the head of the recently formed Stellantis NV out of a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot-maker PSA, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the company has been involved in ongoing discussions with the Native American tribe. 

“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, noting that he has not been personally involved in the dialogue. 

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“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,” he added. 

Tavares told the Journal that companies like car manufacturers naming products after Native American tribes were intended to serve as signs of respect. 

“I don’t see anything that would be negative here,” the CEO said. “I think it’s just a matter of expressing our creative passion, our artistic capabilities.” 

The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr., for the first time last month publicly asked Jeep to change the name of its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles, telling Car and Driver magazine, “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.” 

In an interview with The New York Times last week, Hoskin said, “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.” 

Stellantis defended the use of the name in a statement to the Times last week, writing, “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 automobile manufacturer added. 

According to company figures obtained by the Journal, the Jeep Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee SUVs account for about 43 percent of Jeep’s sales in its largest market, with a new redesign of the Grand Cherokee scheduled to come out later this year.