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Jeep boss says it might drop Cherokee name

The 2019 Jeep Cherokee is introduced during a press preview at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, on January 16, 2018. Car makers appealed to Americans' deep love of SUVs and trucks on at the Detroit Auto Show, unveiling a host of choices from luxurious to utilitarian, while also beefing up the humble sedan. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Jeep’s new boss says the company is open to dropping the name “Cherokee” from its vehicles in response to objections from the Cherokee Nation.

The company is engaged in talks with officials from the Native American tribe, according to Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, the recently merged automaker that includes the Jeep brand. Tavares made the comment in an interview with the Wall Street Journal and his comments were confirmed by the company.

“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 when asked about dropping the name. “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.”

The objections to the name were raised by Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

“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,” he said in a statement last month.

The Grand Cherokee is one of the best-selling models any of Stellantis’ brands in terms of global sales. It is No. 2 in the company’s US sales, behind only the Ram pickup, and the Cherokee is No. 4 in US sales. The Cherokee name was first used on a Jeep SUV in 1974, and has been in use by Jeep on either the Cherokee or Grand Cherokee ever since.

The discussion around the Cherokee name comes as many sports teams and companies are rethinking logos that rely on racist or stereotypical representations of minorities.

The Washington Football team last summer dropped its “Redskins” name, and the Cleveland Indians baseball team followed suit a few months later. Land O’ Lakes butter last year removed an image of a Native American woman from its label. Other food brands including “Aunt Jemima,” have also begun rebranding amid a national reckoning over institutional racism.

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