How you feel about Ewoks is probably determined by your age. If you were a teenager or an adult in 1983 when “Return of the Jedi” came out, you probably loathe them as the kid-ification of “Star Wars.” If you were one of those kids? You probably thought they were adorable and spent time re-enacting ”Ewoks: The Battle for Endor” in your backyard. For the latter, even as adults the Endor natives are protected from derision by a cocoon of 80s nostalgia.
But the Ewoks were originally supposed to be Wookiees.
Way back in Ye Olden Days™ of 1977, George Lucas sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about Star Wars runaway success. I recommend reading the whole the whole article, because it is littered with fun trivia about things that never came to be. However, for now, this is the relevant bit.
When asked about the anthropological background of species like Jawas and Wookiees, Lucas had this to say:
“[In another version of the script, Luke and Han visit the] Wookiee* planet. It's a jungle planet and there was a whole sequence where the Empire had a little outpost… [Luke] rallies the Wookiees and the[y] all attack this imperial base. The imperial base has tanks and all kinds of stuff and the Wookiees beat them off, and then Luke and Ben [Kenobi] and Han [Solo] and a bunch of people train the Wookiees to fly the fighters, and it is the Wookiees that go after the Death Star, not the rebels that were on the planet[…] There is a great sequence which may end up in one of the movies where there is a giant fire and they are all dancing around the fire, all the drums are going and all that kind of stuff.”
*All instances of ‘Wookie” in the quote have been changed to ‘Wookiee” because reasons.
So there you have it. As far back as 1976, when George Lucas was still nailing down the specifics of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” he new one day a bunch of teddy bear aliens would celebrate victory over the Empire with a musical number.