In a recent article from Car and Driver magazine, the automobile magazine is reporting that the Cherokee Nation is asking the Jeep® to stop using the “Cherokee” nameplate across its lineup of award-winning sport utility vehicles (SUVs). It comes as the Jeep brand is getting ready to launch its all-new Grand Cherokee (WL) models, kicking off with the highly-anticipated three-row Grand Cherokee L, next month.
“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, told Car and Driver in a written statement. “The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language, and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness.”
According to the article, a representative of the Cherokee Nation said that until recently it had been several years since it had any communication from Jeep regarding the name. The Cherokee Nation has made comments several times on the record over the use of the nameplate since its returned to the North American Jeep lineup after a 12-year hiatus in 2013.
Since 1974, the Jeep brand has been producing SUVs wearing the Cherokee nameplate. Originally launched on the Jeep (SJ) platform which also underpinned the legendary Wagoneer, the two-door Cherokee proved to be a popular sporty version of the successful SJ. The popular model featured several special edition models including the Golden Hawk, Golden Eagle, and Chief models. It wasn’t until 1977 when the nameplate was then offered on a four-door model.
In 1984, American Motors Corporation invested $250 million to redesign the Jeep Cherokee as a smaller, more advanced SUV based on the all-new Jeep XJ platform. The 1984 Jeep Cherokee was a revolutionary vehicle. Being 21-inches shorter, 6-inches narrower, 4-inches lower, and 1,000 lbs. lighter than the full-size Wagoneer (SJ). It was built on a revolutionary unibody platform instead of a traditional chassis-and-frame. The XJ models proven enduringly popular with 4×4 enthusiasts for their off-road capability and wide availability of aftermarket modifications.
The XJ went on to sell around 3 million vehicles worldwide from 1984 to 2001. It was produced for several markets around the globe and proved to be quite popular in places like Europe, the Middle-East, and China. Production of the vehicle ended up going until 2014 under Beijing Auto Works, with the Cherokee being named the BAW Qishi 骑士 (Knight in Chinese).
The Jeep Grand Cherokee, a larger midsize SUV offering hit the market in 1992 as a 1993 model. It would ultimately replace the long-running Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (SJ) models that went into production in 1963. The Grand Cherokee nameplate has become the most-awarded line of SUVs ever and become one of the automaker’s most successful lines.
After the September 11th attacks on the United States in 2001, the Jeep brand pulled the Cherokee nameplate from the North American market in favor of the more patriotic “Liberty” nameplate. The Liberty (KJ) and its predecessor the (KK), continued to wear the Cherokee name proudly around the rest of the globe. Despite the patriotic new name to the midsized Jeep offering, more people recognized the old Cherokee name. So it was no surprise that Jeep re-introduced the Cherokee nameplate into the North American market in 2013 with the launch of the Jeep Cherokee (KL), the first front-wheel-drive-based offering for the beloved nameplate.
Hoskin also touched on the mainstreaming of racial justice after last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests and the recent major league sports teams making decisions like the Major League Baseball (MLB) team of the Cleveland Indians would drop the Indians name after the 2021 season and the decision to drop the Redskins name from the National Football League’s (NFL) Washington D.C. franchise, which is now called the “Washington Football Team”.
What is your opinion on the Cherokee Nation’s push for the ending of the iconic Cherokee and Grand Cherokee nameplates? Post your answers below, the MoparInsiders.com forums, or the WLJeepForum.com forums. We would like to hear your thoughts.