The Chieftain was the leader of the small Indian village of Mayapore, which had been beset by plague and famine as a result of the Thuggee taking Sivalinga, their sacred Sankara Stone. Worse, the Thuggee also kidnapped and enslaved their children. When Indiana Jones crashlanded near Mayapore with Willie Scott and Short Round, the Chieftain, along with Marhan the shaman, believed they had been sent by Shiva to recover their children and the stone.
The Chieftain was a friendly and soft-spoken man, and seemed to defer to Marhan in matters concerning Sivalinga. It was he who explained to Jones where the stone had been taken from.