When Cars Assume Ethnic Identities

Glenn Collins, New York Times, June 23, 2013

Coming to a showroom near you for 2014: the first sport utility vehicle in its class equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s also the first to offer a parallel-parking feature. {snip}

Oh, yes: its name is the Jeep Cherokee.

Hold on—wasn’t that model name retired more than a decade ago? Wasn’t it replaced by the Jeep Liberty for 2002?

Yet now, in a time of heightened sensitivity over stereotypes, years after ethnic, racial and gender labeling has been largely erased from sports teams, products and services, Jeep is reviving an American Indian model name. Why?


Jeep, a division of the Chrysler Group, explained that its market research revealed a marked fondness for the name. The 2014 version, said Jim Morrison, director of Jeep marketing, “is a new, very capable vehicle that has the Cherokee name and Cherokee heritage. Our challenge was, as a brand, to link the past image to the present.”

The company says it respects changed attitudes toward stereotyping. “We want to be politically correct, and we don’t want to offend anybody,” Mr. Morrison said. Regarding the Cherokee name, he added: “We just haven’t gotten any feedback that was disparaging.”

Well, here’s some: “We are really opposed to stereotypes,” said Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name. “We have encouraged and applauded schools and universities for dropping offensive mascots,” she said, but stopped short of condemning the revived Jeep Cherokee because, “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”

So far, marketing materials for the 2014 Cherokee model have eschewed references to, or portrayals of, American Indians and their symbols. {snip}

For decades, American Indian tribal names have helped to propel automobiles out of showrooms. Return with us now to the era when Pontiac’s sales brochures carried illustrations comparing its 6-cylinder engines to six red-painted, feathered cartoon Indian braves rowing a canoe.

Or review Pontiac’s marketing copy, which proclaimed that “among the names of able Indian warriors known to the white race in America, that of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas and accepted leader of the Algonquin family of tribes, stands pre-eminent.” Of course, the visage of the chief was appropriated as a hood ornament.

Many other tribes were adopted as marketing tools. Long gone is the Jeep Comanche pickup truck, sold in the late 1980s, along with the Jeep Comanche Eliminator.

{snip} And Chrysler’s full-sized S.U.V., the Grand Cherokee, introduced in 1992 as a larger version of the Cherokee and still a market leader. In fact, its success was a reason for the revival of the Cherokee name for a midsize S.U.V.

American Indians have hardly been alone in the cavalcade of automobile cultural stereotyping. In the 1950s, advertising for the Studebaker Scotsman didn’t actually use the word cheapskate, but prospective buyers were informed that “when you and your family sit in your thrifty Scotsman…this great Studebaker body cradles you, your family and friends in safety.” It should be noted, though, that the Scotsman featured cardboard door panels and its hubcaps and trim weren’t chrome-plated: they were painted silver.

While there is no indication that the General Motors Viking was discontinued in the early 1930s because of protests by outraged Scandinavians, it’s a certainty that no automaker’s copy writers would dare write today that “the development of the Viking car closely parallels the development of the Viking youth in attaining manhood,” where “only those best fitted for leadership survived to contribute to the strength and superiorities of the race.”


Also hard to fathom today is the Studebaker Dictator, “Champion of its Class,” discontinued after 1937, when the rise of Hitler and Mussolini gave the model name an unpleasant odor.


American Indians have long opposed derogatory sports-team labels and likened fans’ use of war paint to the derogation of African-Americans with blackface. The N.C.A.A. has forbidden the use of nicknames, as well as mascots, logos, signs and band uniforms that are “deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin.”


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  • Puggg

    Ethnic identities for cars?

    Blacks love Chrysler products, and don’t forget the old joke about what Pontiac means.

    9-speed automatic transmission

    Seriously, they keep making automatic gearboxes with more and more speeds. Why don’t they just give us more CVTs and get over with it?

    • The__Bobster

      The automakers are trying to make their new cars so expensive to repair that you’ll end up junking them instead.

      • Alexandra1973

        I am of the opinion that they purposely don’t build them to last. So after you make the last payment, suddenly you’re paying to keep it running.

        Had my 1997 Grand Caravan since ’02, though…might have been put together by someone competent.

        • Funruffian

          It’s called designed obsolescence. The manufacturers don’t want to make a car that lasts forever, because they would make less money.

          • The problem with that theory is that churning out deliberate lemons would kill brand loyalty. Middle-class people can no longer afford to purchase a new car every three years.

          • Funruffian

            Good point. The car is not a lemon for about 150,000 miles. After that, all the usual mechanical problems start tumbling down like a ton of bricks: the water pump, heating core, radiator, inner and outer tie-rods, sensors, struts, thermostat, hoses, valves, belts, vale body and tranny all become replacement issues which can add to upward of $3,000 in repairs per year. if you don’t mid forking over the money to keep an old clunker, you may want to replace that jalopy.

          • I never spend that much keeping the 1995 Saturn running; it’s quite cheap. It’s also really cheap to register and insure. My Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer truck is not currently running 8-(

            Having an older vehicle is not really different from owning a house. My townhome was built in 1986; I bought it in 1996. Since then, I have replaced the range, the window blinds, the carpet and linoleum and repainted the interior. I’m still running the original water heater, but since it is now 27 years old, it’s going to croak someday. My HOA replaced the skylights.

            The first time the heater tried to turn on, my first October here, a 50-cent fuse saved itself by letting a $200 circuit blow first. Ka-ching! I paid with a smile, knowing it is still better than renting.

    • Erasmus

      What does “Pontiac” mean?

      • Erasmus

        Never mind. I googled it and found out.

      • “Poor Old Nincompoop Thinks It’s a Cadillac?”
        I like the one for Ford (Found On Road Dead)
        Fiat (Fix It Again Tomorrow)
        Chevrolet (Can Hear Every Valve Rod Or Lifter Every Time)

        • Sherman_McCoy

          Isn’t that “Fix It Againa, Tony?”

        • Romulus

          That’s the one!!!

        • Erasmus

          I don’t think the word is “nincompoop” in the Pontiac acronym.

          • YngveKlezmer

            Probably not, no, but Schvarza have been assembling them, and that is why they are junk. Schvarza receiving Union wages, and that is why they are expensive junk.

        • YngveKlezmer

          BUICK-Bantu Uber Idiot Cruiser Klunker
          Anything made in Detroit in recent decades is junk made by Bantus. Give me a Subaru, Kia, or Toyota any day.

          • Alexandra1973

            I hear they like third-generation Grand Caravans.

            I visited family in the Detroit area this past Thanksgiving. My uncle and his wife told me that my 1997 Grand Caravan was a hot item among car thieves.

            When I got back to my mom’s she parked her car behind my van to be on the safe side!

            I might add that my aunt almost had a car stolen–but she pulled a gun on them and advised them that it’s not a wise thing to do.

          • Why do you think so many of the newer US auto plants were set up in Southern right-to-work states in predominantly white areas?

        • Alexandra1973

          Ford: F’d Over Rebuilt Dodge is one I’ve heard.

          My parents and Fords never got along. They’ve always been Chevy people.

        • Paleoconn

          The version I heard was Fix it again, Tony (FIAT).

          IROC, which was a Camaro sub-brand: Italian retard out cruising

      • Romulus

        I remember the street acronym. I don’t think this comment would last long if I posted it.

    • YngveKlezmer

      Anyone that lives near any kind of a Black area is already accustomed to associating older Cadillacs with Blacks. Older Caddies are the ultimate Ni$&er cruiser, and I always watch them with caution, especially after dark. They also love Chrysler products, you are absolutely right. Knowing how primitive their minds are, I suspect it is because “they homies” in Detroit worked on the assembly line manufacturing these cars. This is also why American cars, since the 1970’s, have had such abysmal assembly quality, and why cars made in Asia are so much better built. The Bantus destroyed the auto industry, just as they destroy everything else they lay their hands on.

  • Manaphy

    The Indians were proven to be inferior to Whites in every arena. They were conquered and have no right to whine about “mistreatment” and other liberal wet dreams.

    • dukem1

      Exactly! Veni. Vidi. Vici.
      End of (their) story.
      It’s how history works.

      • Romulus

        Exactly right. If we’re in the business of reparations, maybe the Vatican should pay the indigenous Europeans for a thousand years of conquest,rape,murder,and conversion. Just for illustration.

        • Sick of it

          This is why reparations don’t work…too many years of these guys whacking these guys and vice versa. Europe was a big bloody battlefield for thousands of years. In fact, I’m amused by how many warring parties I’m descended from…

          • Romulus

            As am I. I can see Rome for its undisputed contributions to western civilization but also for its negative impact on Europe’s supposedly barbarian tribes. Particularly by the people who took over the empire after its collapse in 410. AD. Perfectly illustrated in British historian Michael scotts documentary on nat geo’s “Jesus, rise to power”; Gibbons, the rise and fall of the Roman empire; the gallic wars and the civil war by Julius ceaser; the Roman historians: Diodorus Siculus,Virgil, Seutonius;Tacitus; and Cicero.

          • Sick of it

            I’ve read quite a bit by said Roman authors, as well as Machiavelli’s work. The Gallic Wars was a favorite of mine in high school. I’m sure you noted the ethnic descriptions of North Africa, at the least, and compared them to modern North Africa :p

          • Romulus

            Most definitely. That’s why I have such a problem with “modern” scholars revisionist history. You know……, The one about the so and so’s being the ruling elite of Aegypta. The glyphs show their presence but not in what capacity.

          • Sick of it

            The archaeological evidence in ancient African kingdoms points to white hierarchies almost everywhere. I doubt they ruled over black people early on, but most likely as a result of later conquests, the slave trade (which has always been active in that part of the world), and residue of invasions.

            Some of those nations were white Christian kingdoms until black muslims invaded in the middle ages. There is written history which backs this up, but it is ignored by liberal “scholars.”

          • Romulus

            Now in my middle to later years,I spend a great deal of time investigating history. The more lies I hear,the more passionate I become to find the facts. I need to get out more. Lol.

          • Sick of it

            I’ve always had a drive to understand the past so I can understand people. The powers that be have desperately tried to separate us from our history BECAUSE they know how it would both empower us and clue us in to their lies.

    • fitz fitzgerald

      .. Oh, my Lord …

  • Evette Coutier

    Should the jeep wrangled be offensive to cowboys,. I suppose I should find the Boston Celtics offensive to irish folks. what a bunch of babies.

    • Sick of it

      I’m personally offended by the pronunciation of their name…

      • Allan477

        I don’t know. Talking about the Boston Keltics does seem a bit stuffy.

        • Sick of it

          Just saying, what in the heck is a seltic? It doesn’t exist.

          • Sloppo

            I think the Boston Bantus has a better ring to it and that name does a better job of explaining why I have no interest in watching them.

      • I’m actually not offended by the pronunciation “Seltic” because it’s simply imbecilic. If garden-variety stupidity got me offended, I’d have died of apoplexy long ago.

  • Bobbala

    I would love to here the outrage if only names like Vikings, Cowboys, Cavaliers, Celtics, Trojans, … were allowed. Plus Seminoles. They seem to be the only rational sane ones that get it’s not an offense.

    • Sick of it

      Ironic, considering that the Seminole tribe was possibly the most vicious, violent Indian tribe in America.

    • Erasmus

      It’s an honor to have a sports team named after your particular group.

    • Alexandra1973

      A quarter of a century ago, when I was in the marching band, and we were in a competition. One school was the Trenton Trojans.

      We nicknamed them the Rubber Band.

      Here in Ohio there are those who don’t go for Chief Wahoo because he looks like a grinning idiot. I can understand that. My mom, who lives in the Detroit area doesn’t like Wahoo. I don’t care for it myself…but as I told her, I have far more pressing things to be concerned about.

  • IstvanIN

    The Studebaker Scotsman did not have silver painted trim, the grille surround and headlamp rings were painted body color. The model was otherwise devoid of trim.

    Pontiac, Chief of the Skies, originally had a bust of Chief Pontiac as their mascot but switched to an arrowhead, around 1958, for the rest of their history. Neither Pontiac, a brave chief, nor Scotsman, as in thrifty, were meant as insults, in fact, quite the opposite.

  • The__Bobster

    Well, here’s some: “We are really opposed to stereotypes,” said Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

    I’m guessing she had her hand extended as she said that.


    But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name.

    There it is. Me want much wampum.

    • Sick of it

      It should also be noted that Cherokee are all over the United States, so what the hell is she still doing on the reservation?

    • Luca

      Nah, if the Dutch West India Co. bought Manhattan island for $24 what would a copyright or brand name be worth?

      • The__Bobster

        The $24 is a myth that that is spread by libtards. to make the White man look like a cheater of minorities.

        • Sick of it

          We paid 3 cents per acre on the Louisiana Purchase (from a European nation). Best deal ever.

          • Napoleon didn’t feel he had much choice. The French navy wasn’t as large as that of Britain, and Napoleon had constantly pulled trained gunners out of his fleet in order to put them into army service, which made it even less effective from a qualitative standpoint. French overseas colonies were therefore isolated with little hope of reinforcement. It seemed better to sell Louisiana to the USA for money Napoleon could use to fight his wars than to lose the territory to Britain with no hope of compensation.

          • Sick of it

            The British colonial system gave them more available capital and resources with which to fight a war as well. France probably lost a large part of its navy during the Seven Years’ War and then fighting the British on our behalf during the American Revolution. Everything took its toll on France.

          • A lot of the best French naval officers were dyed-in-the-wool Bourbon loyalists, so neither the Republic nor Napoleon had their services.

    • If they’re so opposed to stereotypes, why do some of them – such as this Amanda Clinton – insist on stereotyping themselves as a pack of pathologically compulsive whiners?

      • Erasmus

        Maybe we could rename the tribes: The pansies, the cry-babies, the woosies…

    • Erasmus

      There it is. Me want much wampum.

      Forget it. Her man would go out and spend it on fire-water.

  • Sick of it

    I want a flying car called The Geronimo.

    • The General Lee …..

      • Romulus

        A long time friend of mine has one. Beautiful car.
        DEO VINDICE!!

    • I’d settle for KITT.

  • They should count their blessings that a decent vehicle was named after them.
    What about “Cherokee Toilet Paper”?

    What about the Big Chief Writing Tablet. Remember those?

  • Spartacus

    “is a new, very capable vehicle that has the Cherokee name and Cherokee heritage.”

    Is parallel parking part of Cherokee heritage ?

  • APaige

    Does it run on alcohol?
    If you cut the fuel-line will an olive pop out?
    Will it fail an emissions test because it blew a 2.0?

    • That only comes standard on the Jeep Mexican.

      • Romulus

        Runs on hose a cuervo.

  • “Or review Pontiac’s marketing copy, which proclaimed that ‘among the
    names of able Indian warriors known to the white race in America, that
    of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas and accepted leader of the Algonquin
    family of tribes, stands pre-eminent.’”

    The readers of this page should make themselves more familiar with Chief Pontiac & his band of merry cannibals. Read, WILDERNESS EMPIRE.

    I think that it is an insult to white people to name ANYTHING after non-white savages.

    • jane johnson

      Montezuma’s revenge?

  • American Indians have long opposed derogatory sports-team labels and likened fans’ use of war paint to the derogation of African-Americans with blackface.

    No, most don’t. Just her.

    The reason nothing can be named after Amerinds is because nothing will ever be named after blacks. There is nothing black or african that is esteemed enough for a manufacturer to brand a product after it.

    • Neuday

      Not true. Basketball shoes.

      • You are right, special edition bassetball shoes.
        Things that 99.9% of white people do not buy.

  • IstvanIN

    Oh, and the Viking, Oldsmobile’s upmarket companion make, was discontinued due to very poor sales and the depression. In fact Buick’s Marquette was also discontinued due to slow sales.

  • Romulus

    This story is so ridiculously stupid, it doesn’t even warrant a response.

  • So, call it Viking

    • NM156

      Viking does make high-end appliances.

  • The Final Solution

    They should be honored that they would name a car after them, especially since native Americans never achieved anything in their entire collective history – not even the wheel or a written language.

    • RebelliousTreecko

      I’m pretty sure you’re referring to Africans.

      The Native Siberian tribes had medicines and temples and cave paintings. They also made basic boats. (canoe)

      • The Final Solution

        cave paintings don’t count as a written language. The native Americans were as stupid and as primitive as blacks. Still are.

  • Cville

    You do realize that Jackson adopted a native American orphan? He fought enemy combatants, not peaceful people. True he botched the OK removal (another president’s law) but his intention was positive.

    • Sick of it

      A Creek child by chance?

  • Xerxes22

    I guess the military will have to change the name of its Apache, Blackhawk and Comanche helicopters since it is offensive to Native Americans.

  • MekongDelta69

    Byline by the New York Times.

    No need to read the rest…

  • Car talk.

    * The Toyota Prius Hybrid

    * The Smart Car

    * Any electric car

    I despise them all. Not for what they are or what they do or the clever technology behind them, but for the prissy sanctimonious holier-than-thou greenie lefties that drive them. You can see them driving past you in one of those things and they just have that aura about them that they’re so much better than you are in your evil climate-destroying petroleum-guzzler.

    • AllSeeingEyeSpy

      “You can see them driving past you in one of those things and they just have that aura about them that they’re so much better than you”

      As they proudly drive away with American jobs. . . But a $40,000 dollar car is only a small ticket item. .

  • Because it’s a [email protected]$$ helicopter?

  • When I was little we had a copy of “Little Black Sambo” that my mother had bought as a library discard. The outrage that US Afritards express over the book always puzzled me, because the story includes Sambo being treed by tigers. There are no tigers in Africa; the story is set in India.

  • WR_the_realist

    Certainly the image Jeep has tried to portray for the Cherokee, at least for their “trail rated” models, is of a tough vehicle that can handle wilderness back roads and haul back your deer. My guess is that there are a lot more white liberals at the New York Times complaining about this “stereotype” than real members of the Cherokee tribe.

  • I heard that one as a redneck joke: “… a guy who likes women more than he likes guns.”

  • The list of US states with Amerind names is more than just “a few”:

    Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

    If we include Hawaii, a native Polynesian word, we get 27 states with native names, which outnumber the ones that don’t.

    Curiously, the professional whiners don’t have any bones to pick about this.

  • Sherman_McCoy

    I’m holding out for the new 2014 Squaw.

  • Fredrik_H

    Make a badass jeep and name it Viking. I swear I won’t complain (as long as it’s manly and badass).

  • Steven Bannister

    So, the Cherokees don’t want a Jeep named after them? No problem, I’ve got the solution:

    The new, 2013 Jeep Aryan.

  • Manaphy

    That’s because liberals, and especially white liberals, all have huge guilt complexes, and everything they do, and every political position they take is feelings based.

  • Erasmus

    Double bottle holders in the front for the driver’s and the guest’s magnums of malt liquor?

  • Erasmus

    Diversity trainers. (**GAG**)

    They’re American propaganda officers.

  • “Free Tibet Or Else I Will Put Another Bumper Sticker On My Car”.

  • YngveKlezmer

    That American Indians are suddenly offended at the use of their tribal names, in a positive context no less, for vehicles showcases what is wrong with this country these days. Every non-White minority tries to pull a bogus grievance out of the depths of their small intestine at every bend in the road, and does this is response to every pothole in the road of life.
    Yet, when it comes to us European Americans, we are not treated with the same kid gloves as the non-Whites. The TV set is plastered with crime shows which portray Italian Americans as Mafiosi, yet, where is the show that plumbs the depths of an Arab American terrorist cell?? We all know what the answer is. Until we revoke this preferential treatment for all non-Whites, this kid gloves treatment of anyone whose ancestors do not hail from Europe, we will not see such shows. Bearing in mind who attacked us on 9/11, it is just plain wrong that such a show is not on prime time TV, a show which reinforces, for the non-thinking masses, just what the reality is behind Islamic terrorism in our country. A show focusing on how Black drug dealers actually operate, a show similar to the movie New Jack City from 1991, except more incisive, showing how, so often, the whole Black neighborhood is complicit in this drug dealing, and how crudely racist they are against anyone who is not a member of the Negroid race of humans. In a sensible society, these issues would have front a center prime time shows reinforcing the truth for the American masses. Instead, we are all encouraged to be asleep at the wheel by the media.

  • YngveKlezmer

    You never see a Bantu driving a VW, that is true. The only European cars they gravitate to are the Mercedes. The Bantu drug dealers, once they are into the big money, are always cruising in their “Binz”, showing off their lifestyle, or a Cadillac Escalade with 20 inch rims that get bent when they hit a large pothole.

  • Alexandra1973

    I have a bit of Cherokee ancestry and I am in no way offended when I see Jeep Grand Cherokees.

    (Interestingly enough I drive a Grand Caravan. Caravan….)

  • I have never paid $200 for work boots. I have an old all-leather pair of black combat boots which I have twice resoled. Boots for my narrow feet are tough to find, so once a pair is broken-in, I cheerfully pay to have them resoled instead of replacing them.

    The Korean fellow who resoles my boots charges $25 a pair, and that’s for good Vibram soles.

    As for the editorial you read, the terms “select” and “exclusive” practically leap out of the CRT screen. What does this Dwyer doofus expect? Paying an “afawete” elebenty seben bazillion dollars to put his name on sneakers will inevitably make them “select” and “exclusive”. This is entirely the point!

  • fitz fitzgerald

    Hitler drove a Merc, as my grandfather often remarks as he guns his Maybach on the PCH …

    • There were lots of American makes produced in pre-1945 Germany. After the war ended, the US government paid compensation to Ford for having bombed Ford-owned factories in Germany during the war.

  • MikeofAges

    The argument made by those opposed to names for sports teams like the “Redskins” is that these kind of terms are racial and ethnic pejoratives, akin to calling a team the “Kikes”, “Wops” or “Krauts”. No such issue with using a name which connotes in a proper way an ethnic group, nation or rank in society or in a military hierarchy. So there should be no more problem naming anything after the Cherokees than there is with naming a sports team the “Celtics” or “Fighting Luos” or whatever. Calling a team the “Indians” shouldn’t be a problem in anyone’s mind either. Calling a team the “Braves” really is no different than calling a team the “Corporals”, the “Generals”, the “Kings” or the “Yeomen”.

    The vehicle name I always get a kick out of is the Toyota Tacoma. Okay, the name sounds cool and kind of outdoorsy and broad shouldered. But I have actually lived in Tacoma. I don’t think anyone who had seen the place would think the name was very exotic.

    The problem is, now that they (the leftists) have gotten their way on names that are pejoratives (except for the Washington Redskins, a team name not found offensive by all Native American), they can’t stop there. It’s not in their nature to rest. Ever.

  • You noticed that liberals are also hypocrites as well, huh? Good for you!

  • Right. The body style would resemble the Dodge T-214 & WC-52 3/4 ton Weapons Carrier, but with four-wheel independent coilover suspension. The two spares would stow on the sides in the middle, but lower than on the original and would turn freely in order to help prevent “high-centering”. A standard option would be a fully amphibious body like that of the Ford GPA.

    A small aluminum-block V-8 about the same size as that of the old 215 C.I.D. Land Rover or the similarly-sized one from the Toyota Crown would keep weight down, and with the right cam, would still provide plenty of low-end torque.

  • LP&E

    My gosh has anyone heard of ethnic cleansing? I live in PA. The place names through out the state are German and Amerindian. Our coinage and currency celebrates the Amerindian past (look at the old currency-Indian notes, Buffalo Nickles, Indian Head cents, etc.). Our words, national symbols, language, ideas, thinking, etc. are all admixtures of European and Amerindian ways.

    So what is the complaint? Is it preferred that we erase all these Amerindian references from out culture? That is called ethnic cleansing!