Insulting to whom? White people? Indians? Who exactly would be offended if Chakotay was a Mohawk or a Navajo or a Mayan?
it would depend on how he was portrayed, but I can see how it could be offensive. If people are offended at him being from a fictional tribe, I bet they would definately be offended at him being from a real one...
lets say when he pulls out his medicine bundle, if everything in there isn't spot on 100% completely dead on accurate, if he was from a real tribe people would freak out about it
Let's say he doesn't have a "medicine bundle" to pull out. Since it's not an Indian thing, but a New Age white people who wanna be Indians thing.
This is the problem. Taylor went so overboard trying not to be offensive, that she created a stereotype that is, by nature of being a stereotype, offensive.
The Ecological Peaceful Indian. There's NO history for that. We were just as hard on the environment as the folks who followed us. And Peaceful? Really? The oldest continuous democracy on the planet is the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which was founded so that the 6 nations didn't continue slaughtering each other. (For which, being from one of them, I am grateful...
Here's the thing: TPTB were relying on the actor cast to give them some sorta direction. But they cast an actor who doesn't know a thing about his own heritage (not uncommon among Mexican Americans born in the States). So, he suggested Mayan, thinking they'd do some research.
And Jeri Taylor did. She went to Maya.net & copied the first page into the series bible (which appears word-for-word plagiarized in "Pathways"). That's a creation myth. That's it for the research.
What is particularly sad (yet typical of the blinders the majority culture has on when they look at us) is that TPTB had informants all around them. There's a huge expatriate Mayan population in Los Angeles. They are nannies, and cleaning ladies, and gardeners, as well as doctors, lawyers, teachers & scientists. When I was writing fanfic, I'd get stories from my facialist once a month, and that gave me some background into the culture as it stands in the 21st century--and a starting point for how that culture would evolve into the 24th.
That there was nothing but what she made up in her head showed me that, despite the fact that they worked on a franchise that was supposed to be enlightened, TPTB were no different than most very well-off Americans: they don't talk to the hired help.