By the time anyone got around to noticing them, the Ewoks were merely the primitive tribe living on the forest moon of Endor, in orbit of which was constructed the second Death Star, the ultimate weapon of the Galactic Empire. Their concept of technology was anachronistic at best. When the Rebels showed up looking to sabotage the shield generator for the Death Star, they were surprised to come across the Ewoks. As far as everyone was concerned, the Ewoks might as well have not existed at all.
But appearances can be deceiving. To wit: Palpatine, the Galactic Emperor, was secretly Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith, and had been alive for nearly a thousand years. He showed up most recently as a modest senator from Naboo. Yoda was a Jedi master of similar age. The Wookiee Chewbacca was as well. And so was Wicket, the Ewok.
And what did Wicket do with his long life, and why was he to all appearances just another rustic tribesman when history caught up with him again?
First of all, he was not in any way connected to the Force. He was as surprised as anyone else when the apparent god C-3PO began floating as several captured Rebels were to be roasted alive for dinner. Civilization comes with varying definitions. Certainly on Endor itself the Ewoks were the unchallenged rulers of the moon. It wasn't that they chose not to leave or limit their technology. None of that was necessary.
Wicket was the apprentice of the village medicine man. He was an amateur mystic. In his own way, he was as attuned to the the Force as any Jedi or Sith. With such a long-lived species, it would take a long time replace anyone's role in society. When everything began, Wicket had only just declared his intention to learn under the medicine man.
This was because of the vision he'd had. At first he thought it was a dream, something his young mind imagined. He didn't want to tell anyone, certainly not his parents. Even his friends would give Wicket a hard time about something like that. The vision was of another world, far from his own, another person, another time. The events he saw would only take a few years to begin. He was still waiting to hear about his application when Palpatine made his move against his mentor, against the Jedi, against the universe, when Chewbacca left Kashyyyk for the first time, when Yoda was himself an apprentice, a padawan.
He saw how those three lives intersected, and how his affected them as well. What he had to do. This would be well before the construction of the shield generator, many hundreds of years before, when Yoda still had no clue what was to come, when the Wookiee was still searching for a companion, when Palpatine was still waiting for his moment to strike. When it was time for Wicket to act.
He never had to leave Endor. That he knew instinctively. The first thing he had to do was win the apprenticeship. Only the medicine man would understand what he'd seen.
When at last he was admitted, they shared the spirit quest. The medicine man saw what Wicket had seen. He didn't have to ask a single question. Instead, they walked over to the spot where the shield generator would one day be constructed, and meditated for a whole day. The medicine man helped Wicket bridge time, observe hundreds of years into the future, to when a man named Vader and his son would speak about good and evil. To the Ewoks, ethics were no more than a matter of survival, maintaining their way of life, continuing a tradition that stretched back a long time ago. They didn't know or understand anything about the coming conflict. They didn't need to.
In that moment, as Wicket observed father and son, he sensed how important they were. Neither was part of the vision he'd had, but without them, the vision would never happen. It was always about the other three, Palpatine and Yoda and Chewbacca, working their way back and forth through each other's lives, in ways that weren't always important to Wicket's vision.
Through the moment of confluence, he saw how the son had and would come into contact with each of them. In this way, he was able to tap into those moments as well, provide the encouragement the son needed to complete his journey. As Palpatine's power and influence ebbed, Yoda's life came to an end, and only Chewbacca was left standing. Only he would come to Endor.
Wicket and Chewbacca would never speak of it. Chewbacca had always been driven by an inner resolve. He always knew where he needed to be, who he needed to help. In a way, that was Wicket's role as well. If their roles had been reversed, nothing at all would have changed. That was what Wicket saw. That was why he was able to be so patient for so long. Because in a way, he was out there in the universe anyway. The Ewok and the Wookiee were true kindred spirits.
When the shield generator was at last built, and the Rebels came, Wicket's life was coming to an end. He would never become the medicine man of his tribe. It didn't matter. He'd done what needed to be done. He saved everyone.