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The Chief's Daughter

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"The movie is more generous in showing what the visitors found here. Columbus encounters friendly Indians, of which one — the chief's daughter — is positioned, bare-breasted, in the center of every composition. (I believe the chief's daughter is chosen by cup size.)"
Roger Ebert reviewing Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

Even in Darkest Africa, Injun Country, or the land of Hula and Luaus, everything's better with princesses. The Chief's daughter, in her Fur Bikini or Braids, Beads and Buckskins, is often the first to befriend Mighty Whitey during his visit to the strange new land. She'll conveniently be beautiful by Western standards, but with just enough racial traits to be exotic, and will be a Noble Savage in contrast to the amoral Barbarian Tribe of Hollywood Natives. To show that she is native, gentle, and Closer to Earth, the wild forest animals will flock to her.

Many of a story would have the Chief offer the hero his daughter's hand in marriage, but this is often unnecessary. Just like Asian women in fiction, she'll be irresistibly drawn to the (usually white) hero, to the point that other suitors within her tribe might as well not even bother. Sometimes this trope can be played for laughs by having the girl be Forbidden Fruit to the hero, so when it's found out that he's been getting a little too friendly with her, the rest of her tribe (especially Daddy) will be less than pleased and go for the spears. She'll often be a part of a Love Triangle involving the Mighty Whitey and The Native Rival.


Half the time, she'll be a Damsel in Distress. At best, she'll be able to kick some ass with a spear or bow and arrow, or magic if the setting allows for it. At worst, she'll be a mere bargaining chip and/or Satellite Love Interest. This trope is less commonly played straight in these days of better cultural sensitivity, but may still pop up in some historical works.

A quick Google search identifies the term "Indian Princess" has entered the pop-cultural consciousness, although this is inaccurate. Most tribal cultures did not have hereditary royalty (their leaders are elected instead, like mayors and presidents. The few that are hereditary often are transferred not by the chief's line, but to his eldest sister's children as lineage is only tracked through the mother). Nonetheless, the Chief's daughter fills the same archetypal niche as a European princess, so the phrase is occasionally used as a comparison.


Not to be confused with the usually-white Jungle Princess, who is essentially a female Tarzan. Compare Indian Maiden. See also Green-Skinned Space Babe and Boldly Coming for the far-future equivalent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dr. Stone, Ruri and Kohaku are the daughters of Kokuyo, chief of Ishigami Village. Ruri, being the eldest daughter, is the village priestess (as her mother was before her; the chief is the man who wins the priestess's hand in marriage), but Kohaku's parentage gives her no special position or privileges.
  • In How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Aisha is the daughter of the Chief of the Dark Elves, from the God-Protected Forest. He receives a royal boon due to helping out Elfrieden, and his move is to marry off Aisha to Souma Kazuya. This will have benefits to the Dark Elves, but he mainly did it because Aisha is utterly, obviously head-over-heels in love with Kazuya. Funnily enough, the Princess Classic is a rarity in this setting in any nation we’ve seen. They tend to be either Cute Bruisers, or extremely shrewd strategists.
  • In Rocket Girls, Matsuri is the first native to greet Yukari (since Matsuri speaks Japanese, unlike the rest of the Tariho tribe). Also subverted in that Yukari is actually also the chief's daughter, though by a different wife.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest:
    • Ember goes through a classic trope-fulfilling phase once she reaches puberty. She starts dressing in a leather bikini, wants to meet boys from outside the tribe, and spends most of her time sulking and talking to her wolf-friend. Some years later, though, she becomes chief of her own tribe, and turns out to actually have leadership qualities.
    • Rahnee (who spends a lot of time rebelling against her father) Goodtree (who goes on a Vision Quest before she can properly become chief).
    • Shuna (chief Cutter's adopted human daughter, who tries really hard to be exotic and elfin when she starts meeting human men)
    • Vaya who dies in battle, but not before she finds a boyfriend outside the tribe and defies chief Kahvi's wishes.
    • Kahvi herself who didn't get along at all with her chief father Two-Spear and left the tribe in a huff
    • Venka Kahvi's second daughter, who... actually gracefully evades the trope.
    • Leetah herself. She's the exotic daughter of one of her tribe's two spiritual leaders, she starts her role in the plot being kidnapped by (and falling in love with) the white main character, and the entire first story arc is about two men fighting over her: the white hero 400 years younger than her, and the proud dark-skinned hunter she grew up with that she was about to get "engaged" to. Guess who wins. The trope is played with in an interesting way in that it's the hero's people who are the noble (and nubile) savages, while Leetah and her people are more civilized.
  • Violently deconstructed with Princess Nadkoko in Les Légendaires, who fits almost all elements of this trope... except the one who falls in love with her, Razorcat, is a disfigured, Axe-Crazy Berserker serving as The Dragon to his Knight Templar mother. Cue to a Tear Jerker when his mother betrays Nadkoko's tribe and orders Razorcat to kill her, leading to a dilemma with Berserker Tears.
  • Marvel Comics Western hero the Ringo Kid was the son a white lawyer/rancher and a Comanche princess (never mind that the Comanche don't have princesses).
  • Tex Willer, Italian comic from Bonelli. Tex became chief of the Navajos after marrying the chief's daughter when she saved him from being killed.
  • Moon Fawn, who becomes the wife of Tomahawk. He first comes across her when she is bathing in a river and saves her from a bear attack. She falls in love with him and he has to prove his worthiness to her father, Chief Grey Elk.
  • Reconstructed with Dhalua from Tom Strong. Tom was Raised by Natives on an African island, and eventually marries the chief's daughter. The reconstruction comes in because Tom speaks the language and is part of the tribe, and because he and Dhalua grew up together. Also notable for averting But Not Too Black- Dhalua is dark-skinned African and looks so.
  • In X-Men, Ororo Munro/Storm's mother was Princess N'Dare, and her bloodline was the source of Ororo's white hair, blue eyes, and rarely-used talent for magic (which might have influenced her genetic mutation).
  • In the Lucky Luke story "La Corde au cou", the Dalton brothers are spared execution when their mother find women willing to take them to husbands - all of them are the daughters of the Chief of the Flat Heads, but to their dismay, only one of them, Averell's wife, fits the trope to the T (she's adopted).

    Films — Animation 
  • In the direct-to-video sequel An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, Cholena, the daughter of Chief Wulisso of an underground tribe of Native American mice, comes with Fievel and his friends to the surface to see if Europeans have become more tolerant. Sadly, they have not.
  • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire played this completely straight. While she is quite spirited, she doesn't do terribly much until she is merged with the crystal that powers Atlantis. She of course gets together with the first white boy she sees, Milo. We're told she's a deadly warrior known for her dispassionate kills of trespassers, but none of that comes across on-screen.
  • Nita, the chief Chilkoot's daughter from Brother Bear 2.
  • Plio (Aladar's adoptive mother) and her daughter Suri from Dinosaur. Her father, Yar, is actually the leader of the resident lemur clan.
  • FernGully: The Last Rainforest has Crysta, who is essentially Magi Lume's adopted daughter and apprentice. Crysta is the daughter of the fairy chief.
  • The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound features Desert Flower, the daughter of the chief and chieftess of a tribe of Native American hound dogs and frankly the love interest of Huckleberry Hound.
  • The title character of Disney's Moana is the daughter of the Chief Tui - and NOT the princess - of her village, but the film subverts this trope in a few ways, not the least of which is having no love interest for Moana. Maui is frankly surprised that she doesn't just bow down to him, and later, she realizes that his ego is a way to break down his arguments against helping, but plays it as he would be a hero to everyone, not her hero.
  • Peter Pan (the Disney version) featured Tiger Lily, who was rather more realistic in appearance as compared to the other (literally red skinned) Indians presented in the film. She was also far more attractive, to no one's surprise.
  • Disney's Pocahontas plays this trope pretty straight except Pocahontas is the protagonist herself. Also the other Powhatan are actually not that much less attractive than her (just look at Nakoma) and they are portrayed as having identical mindsets, emotions, and intelligence as the English (white) settlers.
  • In Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, the main heroine Raya has to use the Dragon Gem's power to revive her beloved father Benja, the chief of the Heart tribe who was turned into a statue by the Druun. There is also an anti-heroine, Namaari, who is the daughter of Chieftess Virana of the Fang tribe.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls plays this straight with the Wachati princess. She's one of the few members of the tribe who speaks fluent English, and offers herself sexually to Ace in gratitude for his assistance. He turns her down due to his vows as a Buddhist monk, but this doesn't stop him from furiously masturbating later. However, it's heavily implied that he did end up sleeping with her at some point, as her new husband sicks both tribes on him when he attempts to consummate their marriage and learns that she is not a virgin.
  • In James Cameron's Avatar, the main character first meets Neytiri, the daughter of both the tribal and spiritual leaders of the Na'vi. The trope is even named outright.
  • Christopher Columbus The Discovery has topless native girls. The chief's daughter is the most prominent of them, and Roger Ebert "joked" that the position is probably chosen by cup size.
  • The Daughter of Dawn is an unusual example of this trope in that the chief's daughter actually falls in love with another member of the tribe, not Mighty Whitey. It's an all-Native American cast.
  • Various interpretations of Mutiny on the Bounty frequently has Fletcher Christian fall in love with her. Truth in Television, however, as he did take a native wife as did many of the other men.
  • Tuwana in The Ramrodder. Having fallen in love (or at least lust) with Rick at first sight, she defies her father and comes to Rick's defence when he is accused of the rape and murder of her friend Cochina.
  • In Shaft in Africa, Shaft woos an African princess in the second sequel to his Blaxploitation hit. However she and her father were both educated in the West and act like it.
  • In Shanghai Noon, Jackie Chan's character gets married to the Sioux chief's daughter somewhat by accident (she knew exactly what she was doing). Once they leave the village she pretty much goes off on her own but occasionally shows up to rescue Chon Wang and Roy when they get into trouble. At the end of the movie she dumps Chon for Roy.
  • In the film Stargate Daniel Jackson gets married to the Abydos chief's daughter.
  • In White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf, Lily Joseph is the niece of the chief of the Haida tribe. She is still considered a princess, and is sent on a quest to find the wolf that will bring back the caribou to her people's lands. She finds the wolf and his owner Henry Casey, who does fulfill the prophecy and wins Lily's heart in the end.
  • White Shadows in the South Seas: Dr. Matthew Lloyd has washed up on a south Pacific island after a shipwreck. He is initially denied the charms of Fayaway because she is "tapu" (taboo) as the "virgin daughter" of the temple. After he saves the life of the chief's son, said chief lifts the tapu and gives him Fayaway.
  • The Winnetou series:
    • Apache Gold: Nscho-tschi (Beautiful Day) is Intschu-tschuna's daughter and Winnetou's sister. Intschu-tschuna is the chief of Apaches and Winnetou his successor, and both are noble Indian men. Nscho-tschi is the cutest girl with big brown eyes and raven hair, and she's lovely, sweet and caring. She's also a bright girl with desire to go to school and learn as much as possible. She nurses captured Old Shatterhand to health and falls for him. Notably, she believes his claim that he saved Winnetou's life and she procures the evidence for him to prove that he's not lying. Old Shatterhand returns her affection but their love mostly stayed unresolved and undeclared.
    • Last Of The Renegades: Ribanna is not a straight example. She's the only daughter of the Cheif of Assiniboin tribe. She's a gorgeous woman and Action Girl who can fight because she thinks her father wanted a son. She falls in love with Winnetou, the Chief of Apaches. They plan to marry, but alas! Lieutenant Merril likes Ribanna and proposes he marry her — their marriage will cement a treaty of peace between white men and Indians. Most chiefs like the idea and promise not to fight if they do get married. Winnetou is shattered because he has fought his whole life for peace. He commits this Heroic Sacrifice, but he and Ribanna suffer terribly.

  • Rukaiya in Belisarius Series is the daughter of an Arab sheik. In something of a subversion her dad is an urban trader and one of the most important merchant princes in the area.
  • Codex Alera has Kitai, daughter of Doroga, leader of the Gargant clan of the Marat. Throughout the series, Kitai proves herself to be quite the competent fighter, easily able to hold her own against enemies that can overcome even the series' protagonist, Tavi. Doubles as a Green-Skinned Space Babe since the Marat are non-humans and literally flew to the planet in a spaceship, as opposed to the traditional humans who are the descendants of a magically-transported Roman legion.
  • Dragonlance has Goldmoon, whose status as "Chieftan's Daughter" gets in between her and her lover, Riverwind. It should be noted, however, that they are both from the same culture (plains barbarians).
  • In The Saga of the Borderlands, by the Argentine writer Liliana Bodoc, Nanahuatli is not the daughter of the chief, but the sister of the emperor of The Lords of the Sun. She falls in love with Thungur, a warrior from the Husihuilke tribe, who is from a much lower social class. When she finds out about their romance, her brother is so enraged that he orders Nanahuatli to be taken to the Temple of the Virgins, where she will be sacrificed to the gods. She manages to escape.
  • Invoked with Val in A Song of Ice and Fire, the sister-in-law to Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-The-Wall. Members of Stannis Baratheon's court regard her as a "wildling princess", despite the fact the the Free Folk have no concept of Royal Blood, and Val's relation to Mance doesn't affect her own status at all. Attempts by Jon Snow to convince the southern nobles and Queen Selyse that an Arranged Marriage is incompatible with the wildlings' Asskicking Equals Authority approach and... exotic... marriage traditions end in failure. The trope is also exploited — if some nobles want to believe that her hand is a valuable prize, Stannis is perfectly happy to let them compete for it.
  • Subverted quite spectacularly with Aviendha in The Wheel of Time. She is the niece of her clan chief Rhuarc, but it doesn't convey much status among the meritocratic Aiel, to the point where it is only mentioned once as a throwaway line. She's also decidedly undistressed damselly; rather, a member of their Amazon Brigade and a raging Type A Tsundere. She does end up with the hero...but he's half-Aiel himself, and from his other parent he actually should be a prince.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one of the less spectacular Farscape episodes, John Crichton is stranded on an planet inhabited by an - apparently - primitive tribe of aliens. The daughter of the local matriarch is attracted to him, but he refuses her love knowing it will cause trouble in the tribe. The trouble happens anyway.
  • In Smallville, Clark finds the Kawatche Caves where he meets Kyla Willowbrook, the grand-daughter of a Native American chief.
  • In the Star Trek episode "The Paradise Syndrome", Kirk suffers a bout of amnesia and ends up married to native Princess Miramanee. It does not end well.

  • It sometimes seems like every third Hopi legend/story/oral history involves a village headman's daughter (Hopis don't really have "chiefs") either as love-interest or protagonist.
  • The Klamath Indians' explanation for Oregon's Crater Lake has a chief's daughter named Loha being the catalyst for the story. Her part comes when she turns down the advances of Llao, the god of the underworld, because he was... well, the god of the underworld. Llao decides to punish the people by making Mount Mazama erupt, but then the sky god Skell comes to the rescue. Skell imprisons Llao inside Mount Mazama and makes it collapse to seal the entrance to the underworld, forming Crater Lake. This story is loosely corroborated by geology, which tells us Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazama collapsed into a caldera around 5677 BC.


    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Lyn is the daughter of the deceased Lorca chieftain.
    • Rath is the estranged prince of another tribe, the Kutolah.
    • Rath's daughter Sue (of whom Lyn can be the mother, via supports) takes up the role in the prequel.
    • Rinkah, daughter of the chief of the Flame tribe, fighting against Nohr on his orders.
  • Princess Ruto of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fame could fall under this, being given a more human look (coupled with wearing NOTHING) than other Zora (Especially when compared to her dad, the Chief). While initially snarky, she does become attracted to Link and the McGuffin piece she gives him is like an engagement ring. She also Grows Up Nice.
  • Lester the Unlikely: Tikka, who helps Lester when he reaches the Native village.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon has a gender inverted example with Hau, the grandson of Kahuna, living in Alola (a rural region equivalent to real life Hawaii). Though Kahuna isn't necessarily a tribal chief, but Hala, Hau's grandfather, pretty much has that vibe. He is old, charismatic (especially compared to the other Kahunas), and respected by people of their town. Hau's family house is much bigger than anyone's in the town, implying that his family might come from noble lineage. As addition, Hau is kind of attracted to Lillie, a white girl he befriends, who also happens to be the main villain's daughter.
  • In Red Dead Revolver Falling Star, Red's mother, is the local Chief's daughter.
  • Shania in Shadow Hearts: From the New World. She's the lead female character, love interest to the white protagonist, wears skimpy animal-skin looking clothing and dual wields tomahawks. Although she's not literally the daughter of a chief, she mostly follows this trope.
  • Tikal of Sonic Adventure.
  • Elena from Street Fighter III is a more physically active example.

    Web Animation 
  • Blake Belladonna from RWBY is the daughter of Menagerie's chieftain Ghira Belladonna. However, it's a much more civilized society than most uses of this trope. Instead of violent attacks, Sun is subject to intimidation but is still allowed to say. But her father is still very vocal about how he feels about the friendship.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • While Katara is the daughter of a chief of the southern tribe, she's never referred to as "Princess" and doesn't seem to have all that much interest in finding a husband. Her main priorities are learning how to Waterbend and helping Aang save the world (though he does have a crush on her and they get together eventually). However, this is mostly likely because the southern tribe isn't deeply into tradition, as the Northern tribe's Princess Yue most definitely plays this trope for all it's worth. The Southern Water Tribe appears to be democratic, while the Northern Water Tribe seems to be a Monarchy. This may be due to simple attrition; the Southern tribe is down to a few dozen people in a fishing village at this point, plus the remaining warriors on campaign, while the Northern tribe is still a populous city.
    • When Sokka tries to flirt with Yue, he refers to himself as a Prince, but Katara asks "Prince of what?". For all practical purpose, being the daughter (or son) of the chief of a small, primitive town, doesn't give you a high rank outside, especially compared to The Chief's Daughter from a powerful kingdom.
    • This further expanded on in The Legend of Korra, because they essentially rebuilt the South following the war, the Chief of the Northern Water Tribe considers himself technically the chief of both tribes, despite the two being, for the most part, completely separated and the Southern Tribe preferring their own council of tribal leaders. Korra herself fits the bill in that she is the daughter of Tonraq, who is the single most influential leader of the Southern Water Tribe, even though her uncle, Unalaq, is the aforementioned Chief of Northern Tribe and thus technically the South as well. At the end of Book 2, she fits the bill for real when the two tribes separate and Tonraq is officially elected as Chief of the Southern Water Tribe.
    • Eska, as daughter of Unalaq, would thus qualify, much as Yue in the original series did before her. Ironically, her ex-boyfriend/fiance even goes on to be a "mover star" in a corny series of adventure serials much like those in which this trope would be played totally straight, but his on-screen love interest doesn't fit the trope.
  • Parodied in an episode of Back at the Barnyard, wherein the elderly hound Everett is trying to remember the combination to his Indiana Jones expy owner's safe so that Otis and the other animals can find out what's inside. To do this, Everett recollects everything he can about his adventures with his owner so that the animals can act it out and jog his memory. Apparently, a lot of these involved his owner wooing a chief's daughter and being forced to marry her. Quote Everett, "he was a chief's daughter magnet!" Becomes a Brick Joke when Everett's owner turns out to be the contents of the safe and as the two walk off into the sunset he asks Everett if there are "any chief's daughters around here", to which Everett snarks "the next county's swarming with 'em!"
  • In Tak and the Power of Juju (2007), Zaria and Jeera are the daughters of the bumbling but harmless chief of the Pupununu village. Zaria is meant to be the heir apparent for she highly thinks of herself, and she and Jeera tend to get in squabbles. Jeera, on the other hand, often bemoans that her father only prefers Zaria.

    Real Life 
  • Pocahontas was the daughter of Algonquin Chief Powhattan note , but stories of her romance with John Smith are greatly exaggerated. She was a preteen at the time, though it was not quite the strict disqualification at the time it would be today. The real John Smith wasn't exactly what you'd call a blonde Adonis. He was said to be a short, pudgy ginger. She did wind up with another English guy, John Rolfe. King James I took her 'royalty' so seriously he considered punishing Rolfe for his presumption in marrying a 'princess'.
  • Historical rumor has it that John Smith seemed to very coincidentally have Chieftan's Daughters fall madly in love with him in just about every native culture where he showed his face. According to his journals, anyway. There's some talk that what John Smith witnessed (if it really happened) may have been a ritualized ceremony designed to show newcomers who was boss (by nearly "executing" them and then having them saved by a little girl).
  • St. Kateri Tekawitha, notably the daughter of a chief who was also adopted by her uncle, the husband of her father's sister, who was also a chief, then she ran away to more or less become a nun in French Canada and ultimately became a Catholic saint.

Alternative Title(s): Indian Princess