Three Sisters Sculpture

Three Sisters of NOTO

by Mona Cliff | Art Health Walk

Created in 2023

Artists: Mona Cliff

Location: Veterans Park Parking Lot

The Three Sisters story exists in numerous Native American cultures and represents a symbiotic planting method of corns, beans and squash. These three plants support each other through their growth and life cycle, and support humans as well as a perfect nutritional trifecta.

In this location and in the mural, the Three Sisters represent Julia Gonville-Pappan, Victoria Gonville-Pappan, and Josette Gonville-Pappan. These three Kaw sisters married three French brothers who are well known in Topeka and Shawnee County history, but lesser known are their wives, who were the original owners of this land.

Julia Gonville Pappan owned this particular section of land you are standing on. It was allotted to her as her individual Kaw Reserve under the Treaty of 1825 (Reserve Number 4) and was later known as the town of Eugene after Kansas statehood. North Topeka’s expansion throughout the years has included the reserves of her sisters Josette and Victoria. North Topeka is not only the homeland of the Kaw Nation but is truly the land of the Three Sisters.

Julia Gonville-Pappan was the grandmother of Charles Curtis, the 31st Vice President of the United States, and the first Vice President of color.

 The mural and the bur oak tree were dedicated on September 28, 2023 in partnership by:

NOTO Arts and Entertainment District , 785 Arts LLC/The DoPiKa Project, Evergy, Federal Home Loan Bank, Shawnee County, City of Topeka, 

Kaw Nation

 The dedication made possible by the following sponsors:

Evergy, Federal Home Loan Bank, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Historic North Topeka East Neighborhood Improvement Association, City of Topeka, Schmidtlein Excavating, Old Castle, Onyx Wellness Cafe, Wheel Barrell, John Baker Audio

Health Access Tip: 

The Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) are a healthy food that’s fun to grow and healthy to eat.

This food combination dishes up a wholesome, nutritious meal. Corn is a source of carbohydrates. Dried beans are rich in protein and provide amino acids. Squash is an important source of vitamins and minerals absent from corn and beans. There is also the benefit the plants provide to each other. Corn provides a substrate for the beans to climb on, beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil while also stabilizing the corn during inclement weather. The large squash leaves shade the ground, which helps retain soil moisture and prevents undesirable weeds. The Three Sisters are the foundation of a stable and sustainable dietary community.

Three Sisters Soup (recipe from the American Heart Association)Serves 6

Ingredients

The Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) are a healthy food that’s fun to grow and healthy to eat.

This food combination dishes up a wholesome, nutritious meal. Corn is a source of carbohydrates. Dried beans are rich in protein and provide amino acids. Squash is an important source of vitamins and minerals absent from corn and beans. There is also the benefit the plants provide to each other. Corn provides a substrate for the beans to climb on, beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil while also stabilizing the corn during inclement weather. The large squash leaves shade the ground, which helps retain soil moisture and prevents undesirable weeds. The Three Sisters are the foundation of a stable and sustainable dietary community.

Ingredients

· 6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

· 1 15.25-ounce can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

· 1 15.25-ounce can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained

· 1 small onion, chopped

· 1 rib of celery, chopped

· 1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin (not pie filling)

· 5 fresh medium sage leaves

OR

· 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

· 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

1. Pour the broth into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2. Stir in the corn, beans, onion, and celery. Boil, still over medium-high heat, for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the pumpkin, sage, and curry. Reduce the heat and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Health section sources:

National Environmental Health Association, Denver, CO https://www.neha.org/directalk-three-sisters

https://cpr.heart.org/en/recipes/three-sisters-soup

Health section sources:

National Environmental Health Association, Denver, CO https://www.neha.org/directalk-three-sisters

https://cpr.heart.org/en/recipes/three-sisters-soup

NOTO Arts District Logo
Blue Cross Blue Shield Logo
Stormont Vail Logo
KNEA Logo
Skip to content