The first Jeep Cherokee, the SJ, was built by AMC starting with model year 1974; there has been a Cherokee (or, more recently, a Grand Cherokee) in the Jeep lineup ever since. The New York Times apparently found out about them just this month:
Someone apparently told white guy Glenn Collins that Jeep’s been naming an SUV of some sort after a Native American tribe for the last forty years. Presumably there are no Jeep Cherokees in Manhattan. I know I’ve never seen one. Mr. Collins immediately leapt into SWPL action, contacting the Cherokee tribe to see what they think about this racist act.
The tribe, while acknowledging that Jeep wasn’t making them rich, said that they took no position on the matter:
In other words: We don’t care about it, you old white man, and we think your time would be better spent agonizing about truffles or font choice. The Cherokee Nation itself is busy participating in disaster relief and improving tribal access to healthcare.
The only possible racist connotation I could imagine would be if a guy carjacked a Cherokee in North Carolina and forced the driver to go to Oklahoma without a break.
Please don’t give anyone any ideas.