Locating the early childhood education setting as a crosscultural contact zone, this paper explores emergent indigenous leadership practices in Australia and Canada . These arise from indigenous leaders' optimism about Aboriginal-generated directions for success in some indigenous early childhood settings. These directions address the educational expectations and needs of Aboriginal children and families, in a context of the consistent failure of dominant discursive regimes to do so. These practice are identified in collaborative research partnerships, between an early childhood lecturer at UNE Armidale and an Aboriginal Preschool director and between the Australian partners and Canadian early childhood practitioners . We collaboratively adapted the language and concepts of Jorde-Bloom and Sheerer's (1991) staff development instruments for use by Australian and Canadian Aboriginal preschool teaching staff in group workshops. The paper explores a number of leadership practices that draw on a range of sources of authority through traditional, contemporary indigenous and mainstream regimes of truth, to devolve leadership throughout local communities; take account of kin networks; refuse to adopt fixed binary oppositional positionings, and aspire to educational success through Aboriginal curriculum perspectives 'beyond the boomerang'.