The chief of the Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using the tribe's name on its vehicles.
"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," Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said in a statement.
A Cherokee Nation spokesperson confirmed the statement, which was provided to Car and Driver and published Monday. It was sent to the auto magazine after an inquiry in January.
"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," Stellantis, the company that owns Jeep, said in a statement.
Two Jeep vehicles use the name, the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee, both of which are sport utility vehicles. The original Cherokee was launched in 1974.
The Jeep Cherokee remained in production through 2001 and was replaced by the Liberty. In 2013, Jeep announced a return to the name for the Liberty's replacement. The Grand Cherokee was introduced with the 1993 model year.
"We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr," the company said.
Stellantis and Hoskin had a Zoom call late last month after the company reached out, the Cherokee Nation spokesperson said.
Hoskin told Stellantis that he does not condone the use of the word "Cherokee" by the company, the spokesperson said.
Hoskin told CNBC that the discussions were "good" and "genuine," but he did not change his stance.
"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 his statement.
Some have recently done so — the Washington, D.C., NFL team announced in July that it would retire its name and logo, which had long been viewed as slurs. It's now called Washington Football Team until it settles on a new name.
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And in December, Cleveland's Major League Baseball team announced that it would change its name after the 2021 season. The team has not said what the new name will be other than that it will be a "new non-Native American based name."
Cleveland announced in 2018 that it would drop its Chief Wahoo logo, a racist caricature, from its caps and jerseys.
More than 141,000 Cherokee Nation citizens live within the tribe's reservation boundaries in northeastern Oklahoma.