Stellantis, the parent company of Jeep, isn't completely shutting down the idea of removing the "Cherokee" name from its SUVs, CEO Carlos Tavares said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The automaker's head said discussions with the Cherokee Nation Native American tribe remain ongoing, the first time an executive from the company addressed the controversy.
The Cherokee Nation criticized Jeep earlier this year for continuing to use the "" name on its compact SUV and larger " " models. Tavares said the company's "ready to go to any point" as talks progress, though he added he's not sure "if there is a real problem."
"But if there is one, well, of course we will solve it," the CEO said. The Cherokee Nation's principal chief, Chuck Hoskin Jr., told Car and Driver last month that Jeep had not previously entered into a "meaningful dialogue ... on cultural appropriateness."
"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.
A Stellantis spokesperson referred Roadshow to a past statement issued when discussions between it and the Cherokee Nation began. "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 automaker said.
Up until now, it's seemed highly unlikely the automaker would drop the long-running name from its SUVs. The "Cherokee" name dates back to 1974, and the arguably more popular Grand Cherokee entered the world back in 1993. The discussion comes at a time ofof racial and cultural sensitivities in the US. Several sports teams have dropped depictions of Native Americans from their logos and mascots in the last few years, and the .