The Chief's Daughter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Even in Darkest Africa, Injun Country, or the land of Wild Samoans, Everything's Better with Princesses. The Chief's daughter, in her Fur Bikini or Braids, Beads, and Buckskins, is often the first to greet or trust Mighty Whitey during his visit to the strange new land. She'll be inexplicably beautiful by Western standards with just enough racial traits to be exotic, and will be a Noble Savage, Nubile Savage compared to the rest of her Barbarian Tribe, and a Friend to All Living Things.

Many a story will 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 irresistably drawn to the (usually white) hero, to the point that other suitors within her tribe might as well not even bother. Sometime's 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.

Sadly, there's only a 50/50 chance that she'll be anything but a Damsel in Distress. At best, she'll be able to kick some ass with a spear or bow and arrow. At worst, she'll be a mere bargaining chip. This trope is less commonly played straight in these days of 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). 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 Green-Skinned Space Babe, Boldly Coming.

Examples of The Chief's Daughter include:

Anime and Manga

  • 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

  • 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).
  • Chinook from Buddy Longway.
  • Ember from Elf Quest 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.
    • Also from Elf Quest: 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), and Venka (Kahvi's second daughter, who... actually gracefully evades the trope).
    • And don't forget 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.


  • 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 intelligences as the English (white) settlers.
  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls plays this straight with the Washati 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).
    • Masturbating? He wasn't alone in his tent.
    • He does eventually do her, as she's no longer a virgin by film's end thanks to Ace.
      • "They can tell that?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Shanghai Noon, Jackie Chan's character gets engaged (married?) to the Indian chief's daughter somewhat by accident. But it all works out when she decides to elope with Owen Wilson's character instead.
  • In the film Stargate Daniel Jackson gets married to the Abydos chief's daughter.
  • 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.
  • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire played 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.
  • Ariel from The Little Mermaid is Triton's daughter. She has some damn fine hips attached to those fins because men don't like a lot of blather.
  • 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.
  • Plio (Aladar's adoptive mother) and her daughter Suri from Dinosaur. Her father, Yar, is actually the leader of the resident lemur clan.
  • Christopher Columbus: The Discovery has topless native girls. The chief's daughter is the most prominent of them, and Roger Ebert "joked" that she was probably chosen by cup size.
  • Nita, the priestess Tanana's daughter from Brother Bear 2.
  • The titular character of Disney's Moana.


  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The daughter of a Welsh chief in "The Chief's Daughter" from Rosemary Sutcliff's Heather, Oak, and Olive series, in a story set in the pre-Christian and possibly even pre-Roman era. When a boy who sets out with Irish pirates is stranded it is decided to sacrifice him and the daughter rescues him and helps him get home.

Live-Action TV

  • In one of the less spectacular Farscape episodes, John Crichton is stranded on an planet inhabited by a 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.
    • Somewhat subverted, however, in that the "primitive" tribe isn't so primitive as they first appear. They are well aware of space travel and Crichton's distant origins are no more surprising for them than it is for any other civilization the crew encounters, and they once had technology equal to most of the other races in the Uncharted Territories. The episode eventually reveals that all of their technology was intentionally disabled by their leaders in the Hynerian Empire, leaving them stranded on the planet until they were forgotten. Many hundreds of generations later the truth has largely been relegated to a mythic past with only the priests knowing the full truth (it is strongly implied that they did this deliberately to secure and maintain their own power). Once the damping field disabling their technology is shut down, it's shown the Aquarans have no trouble at all making their equipment work again.
  • 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 heroes are Hopi too, of course, but Everything's Better with Princesses.

Video Games

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lyn from Fire Emblem is the daughter of the deceased Lorca chieftain.
    • Rath is the estranged prince of another tribe, the Kutolah. His daughter Sue (of whom Lyn can be the mother, via supports) takes up the role in the prequel.
  • Elena from Street Fighter is a more physically active example.
  • In Red Dead Revolver Falling Star, Red's mother, is the local Chief's daughter.

Western Animation

  • Subverted and Played Straight in Avatar: The Last Airbender. While Katara is the daughter of the 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.
    • When Sokka tries to seduce Yue, he refers to himself as a Prince, but Katara asks "Prince of what?". For all practical purpose, being the daughter 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.
  • In the direct-to-video sequel An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island Cholena, the daughter the Chief 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.
  • Fern Gully has Crysta, who is essentially Magi Lume's adopted daughter and apprentice.
    • Crysta is the daughter of the fairy chief.

Real Life

  1. though technically not a princess since their inheritance laws worked differently