George Lucas created the Ewoks because he wanted Return of the Jedi to feature a tribe of some primitive creatures that bring down the technological Empire. He had originally intended the scenes to be set on the Wookiee home planet, but as the film series evolved, the Wookiees became technologically skilled. Lucas designed a new species instead, and says his approach was simple: Wookiees are tall, so he made Ewoks short. The Ewok are named after the Miwok, a Native American tribe, indigenous to the Redwood forest in which the Endor scenes were filmed for Return of the Jedi, near the San Rafael location of Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. The name also is a pun on the syllables of Wookie in reverse order.
As presented in the films, Ewoks appear as stocky, sapient bipeds which stand about one meter tall. They have flat faces, are completely covered in fur, and have large jewel-like eyes. Both their fur and their eyes come in a variety of earth-tones, primarily brown, white, grey, gold, and black. Despite their small size, Ewoks are strong; in the climactic battle scene of Return of the Jedi, they are shown physically overpowering and once even throwing Imperial Stormtroopers, though this detail is not consistent throughout the film. Ewoks live high among the trees of their home moon’s forests, in villages built on platforms between the closely spaced trees.