The Ewoks were Named after the Native American Tribe Miwok
The Ewoks in Star Wars were named after the Native American tribe Miwok. The Miwok’s lived in the Redwood forest that is the setting for the Endor scenes on Return of the Jedi.
It has also been suggested that Princess Leia’s bun hair style was also of Native American origin, based on the Hopi Indian “Squash Blossom” hair style that very strongly resembles Leia’s bun hair style. George Lucas denies this, stating the similarity is coincidental.
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George Lucas originally intended that the Wookiees would be the furry race to appear in Episode 6, and a climactic battle was to take place, but he delayed this until Episode 3 to wait for technology to catch up to his vision. Instead, a similar race, the Ewoks appeared. To create the Ewok name, Lucas reversed the syllables in Wookiee (wok-ee) to get Ewok (ee-wok)
@Isaac: Not quite on the name. Here’s a direct quote from George Lucas on the origin of the name (which he stated under oath in court after being sued for the name, from the book Where There is Life, There is Lawsuits): “I took the end of Wookiee, the ‘ie’ off Wookiee, and put it at the head, like Pig Latin, [So Eiwooke] and then started when I said it phonetically, it sounded like Ewok, which is very similar to Miwok, which is the Indians that sort of inhabited the area where I live and where my studio is. Matter of Fact, there was a Miwok village just outside my office. So I thought that was a nice sort of reverbation of the idea and eventually took the ‘i’ and one of the “o’s” out and it was Ewok.” So he started off going with the Wookie thing, but ended trying to mimic the Miwok tribe name.