This paper discusses some issues that arose in the context of a three-year research project on Indigenous mathematics teacher education in the Northern Territory of Australia1. The project was based on the premise that Indigenous student numeracy outcomes are more likely to be improved where students can work on key number ideas and strategies in first language with knowledgeable community members. The research was located at the intersection of three communities of practice involving Indigenous teacher assistants, nonIndigenous teachers, and research team members. While a range of factors variously impacted the project, tensions within and between the communities of practice emerged to challenge the initial design and pose new questions. This paper will describe the research approach and illustrate the need for analyses which accommodate the often “messy relations” between individuals, individuals and communities, and different communities of practice.