It has long been a source of discussion among hardcore fanboys: why didn’t Chewbacca get a medal at the end of the original STAR WARS? He was certainly as deserving of one as Luke and Han Solo. There are two reasons, one that is in canon and one that is not. The one that is not is a real-world reason, a practical reason. Carrie Fischer, as Princess Leia, wasn’t tall enough to put a medal around Chewbacca’s neck. George Lucas was afraid it would look silly to have her stand on a chair or something—because it would have looked silly. He thought that having Chewbacca bow to accept would also have looked silly, because Peter Mayhew would have had to bend down so much farther than any of the other actors, practically bending double. That might have looked silly, too, and having Chewie take a knee might have made him look weak. The in-canon reason Chewie didn’t get a medal is because Wookies apparently don’t care for trinkets. (George Lucas just made that up on the spot, I’m telling you.) STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, though, finally fixes this oversight, as Chewie—SPOILER ALERT!!!—is awarded Han Solo’s medal at the end of the movie. I daresay that this medal would mean far more to the big guy anyway. No mere trinket, that. It was better than if he’d gotten one at the end of the first movie.
George Lucas allegedly conceived of Chewbacca as a Sasquatch. This was back in the 70s, remember, when Sasquatch mania was running wild in the wake of the Patterson-Gimlin film, so it would make sense. Chewie ended up not being as chunky as the figure in the Paterson-Gimlin film, though. And he ended up cuter. (Sorry to the alleged female Sasquatch from that film. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)