Native American Indian Heritage month speaker embraces tradition, spirit

By Rachel Deloach, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command Public AffairsNovember 8, 2021

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., -- Team Redstone will celebrate Native American Indian Heritage Month with a virtual observance featuring keynote speaker Sheila Cumming, the founder, president and chief executive officer of Cummings Aerospace.

U.S. Army Security Assistance Command is the host for the event, and an interview was conducted with Cummings to discuss her Lumbee Native American Heritage and how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM, career opportunities for minors can help create a more diverse workplace.

The videotaped interview will be emailed to all Redstone Arsenal tenant organizations and available on USASAC’s social media pages beginning Wednesday, November 17. The observance provides an opportunity to recognize American Indians and Alaskan natives and celebrate the service of over 150,000 veterans of Native American descent. Today, more than 9,000 Native people serve in the total Army.

Cummings grew up in Pembroke, North Carolina and attended the University of Maryland, College Park in 1995 where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. From there, she worked as a spacecraft thermal engineer with the Naval Research Laboratory and later as a systems engineer on multiple missile defense programs.

Prior to forming her Native American Woman-Owned small business, Cummings led a $30 million Missile Defense Business Unit as vice president of a small engineering company in Arlington, Virginia. The theme for this year’s observance is “Grounded in Tradition, Resilient in Spirit,” which celebrates the spirit and the culture of the first people to live on the land that comprises the U.S.