The Native Rival

The Mighty Whitey has arrived in the village of the Magical Native Americans and is Going Native. Thanks to his inherent specialness, he quickly becomes an Instant Expert at all the natives' skills and traditions, and is in a fair way to winning the respect, and even adulation, of the natives. Oh, and the hand of The Chief's Daughter too. At this rate, he may even become Of the People. Is there anybody that doesn't love this guy?

That's where The Native Rival comes in.

Almost always a Noble Savage (unless he's a Native American Jerk Jock instead), The Native Rival has been born and raised in the ways of his people and is frequently their greatest warrior—until the arrival of the Mighty Whitey. Expect him to be frustrated that his Hard Work Hardly Works, and outright hostile to the Mighty Whitey. Part of his hostility is likely rooted in a romantic rivalry over The Chief's Daughter, who at best he'll be the Hopeless Suitor or Unlucky Childhood Friend to and at worst be her Disposable FiancÚ, often via an Arranged Marriage. Alternatively, he may be the love interest's older brother or some other relation.

The Native Rival is generally the last to accept the white man, if he ever does so. If not, he'll either attempt to kill or betray the whitey, or else he will be killed himself. When he does accept the white man, this decision makes every remaining dissenter accept him as well.

Though it matches best with the Mighty Whitey trope, this is also found when the protagonist is not a white man, but is still an "outsider".


Mighty Whitey

Comic Books
  • In the comics of Jonah Hex, the eponymous character's saving of the Apache chief he was sold into slavery to earned him this trope.

  • Tsu'tey in Avatar. This is a rather epic example. Tsu'tey was a jerk at first, but everything after that is entirely the hero's fault. The love interest was betrothed to the rival, after all. But, this being a Mighty Whitey film, Tsu'tey winds up dying serving the hero in the war the hero brought upon them all, after he basically forgave the hero for stealing his betrothed.
    • A deleted scene (included in the DVD Special Edition) is even more egregious, in which Tsu'tey, mortally wounded, ends up passing on leadership of the Omatecaya to Sully!
  • Wind-in-his-Hair in Dances with Wolves.

  • Ghost Dance - a novel by the author of the Gor books about the Battle of Wounded Knee - has a native who isn't impressed by the protagonist.
  • Broud fills this role in Clan of the Cave Bear

Live-Action TV
  • Farscape also did the Dances with Wolves IN SPACE! bit in one episode, complete with a native competitor for the hand of the chief's daughter. Averted because Crichton wanted absolutely nothing to do with the tribe, besides be polite neighbors, and the relationship with the tribal leader's daughter was completely one sided. Played straight because despite all of that, The Native Rival's Mother was using him to motivate her son to greatness (Through jealous violence).
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Salish from "The Paradise Syndrome" to Kirk as the god sent to save them from the coming apocalypse. They both go for Miramanee, Kirk wins only to lose her after she saves him from the stones of a mob led by Salish. And Salish gets away with it completely, minus Miramanee.

Western Animation
  • Kerchak the dominant male gorilla in Tarzan.
  • Kocoum in Disney's Pocahontas, mainly because he's annoyed at John Smith for getting romantically involved with his intended bride (the title character, who is also The Chief's Daughter). He ends up getting killed by Thomas (John Smith's friend) while trying to murder Smith.
  • In an early episode of the 90s X-Men cartoon, Wolverine gets thrown into the Arctic sea by Sabretooth, and is rescued by an isolated Inuit tribe. He quickly becomes a favorite of the tribe, being able to hunt and catch fish better than anyone else (albeit this is partially due to previous experience). The tribe's previous favorite son is naturally put out by this. And then he runs into Sabretooth...

Other cases

Comic Books

  • In ElfQuest Rayek of the Sunfolk, a group of brown skinned elves with an Egyptian motif, challenges Cutter, a Wolfrider, part of a group of paler skinned elves, and an outsider, over the love of Leetah, a Sunfolk woman using an ancient ritual. Their relationship is a giant Cock Fight.



Western Animation