Over nearly 50 years of building the Cherokee SUV, Jeep may now need to change its name of its vehicle to something else.
The first Cherokee went on sale back in 1974 and since then, Jeep had been benefitting monetarily from consumers’ positive opinions of what the term “Cherokee” means.
And up until now, neither permission nor appreciation for the Cherokee Nation’s contribution was ever sought.
Now, the Cherokee Nation is calling on the car company to stop using its name for their vehicles.
“The use of indigenous names and images without the consent of the individuals involved grows out of a time when there was not much awareness of indigenous concerns,” said Stacy Leeds, professor of law at Arizona State University and a former justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. “Most people and companies don’t come to it from ill will.”
Being the largest tribal government in the U.S., the Cherokee Nation sits at more than 380,000 citizens.
“The Cherokee name belongs to a people,” Charles Hoskin Jr, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation said.
“I think Jeep and its parent company set out to capitalize on the picture people have in their minds about Native Americans and the Cherokee, associate that with a brand, and then make money in the process.”
“I’m saying, categorically, I think it’s wrong to use our name to peddle a vehicle.”
However, Jeep is not the only car manufacturer that uses Native Americans’ names to name their car models.
For example, Nissan Qashqai bears the same name as nomadic clans that live in southern and central Iran, to name one.