Both objects showed simple adaptation of a natural pebble by working “dints” in the surface to fit the fingers of an adult, but of only the one hand. The darker stone veined with white seams, fitted only the left hand. The light-colored, rounded pebble fitted only the right hand. Only when these artifacts were identified by a knowledgeable Indian did this contradiction become challenging. The dark stone was identified as a pounding stone. The other was a paint-pot. Usually a person would pound dry-meat for pemmican with the right hand. When the fingers of the left hand were fitted to the dintsor pockets, the four fingers fitted naturally into four places that were obviously carefully located so that the little finger was somewhat up on the side of the stone, as was the thumb. When grasped by the right hand, the thumb would lie on the underside of the stone, and render the implement useless as a pounder. These observations led to the surmise that the artifact had been purposely adapted for a left-handed worker.
This article was found near Lesser Slave Lake in the early 1900’s.
The most conspicuous work on the porous light-colored stone was a deep pit angling into the body of the stone. Five other shallow dints had been clearly worked into the surfaces. An Indian identified the article as a paint-pot.
On the assumption that a normal person would use the right forefinger to apply designs, we held the pot in the left hand. The thumb and three fingers fell naturally into four of the dints, but the little finger had to be awkwardly spread to find the fifth dint and the pebble was insecurely supported. The paint reservoir was shallow.
Transferred to the right hand, its five depressions were in position to receive the four fingers well spread out, and the thumb where it held the stone securely and naturally. The paint chamber was now deeper and slanted to fit the left fore-finger for scooping up the pigment, as we discovered when we mixed some red clay from a seam (found near Hudson’s Hope in the river bank) with some rendered suet fat. Clearly, the owner applied his body paint with his left hand.
A left-handed pemmican maker and a left-handed artist? Common, or coincidental?