But I suspect it was heavy on the New Age belief that Natives are more spiritual and in touch with nature. It would've made Chakotay a novelty in 1940s and 1950s, when most Hollywood Indians were violent savages. But in the 1980s and 1990s, practically every Hollywood Indian was spiritual and in touch with nature. At that point, Chakotay wasn't much except a tired cliché.
For more on the subject, see Star Trek Voyager: Chakotay.