The chief executive officer of Stellantis, the organization that owns Jeep, said Wednesday that the company was open to dropping the Cherokee name from its vehicles.
Carlos Tavares told The Wall Street Journal that the company was in talks with the Cherokee Nation over the use of tribe's name on its SUVs.
"We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries," he said. "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."
Two Jeep vehicles use the name, the Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee. 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.
Tavares' comments to The Wall Street Journal come just weeks after Car and Driver published a statement from Chuck Hoskin Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, on Feb. 22.
"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," Hoskin said in the statement, which was sent to the auto magazine after an inquiry in January.
A spokesperson for Stellantis said at the time that the vehicle names were "carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride."
In his statement, Hoskin said, "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."
Some have already done just that. In July, the Washington Football Team retired their old name, long condemned as an anti-Indigenous slur. And in December, the Cleveland's Major League Baseball team announced it would change its name after the 2021 season — two years after Cleveland said the team would drop its Chief Wahoo logo, a racist caricature, from its caps and jerseys.
Neither teams have released a new name.
More than 141,000 Cherokee Nation citizens live within the tribe's reservation boundaries in northeastern Oklahoma.