In a policy landscape dominated by forces that seek to continually reshape education according to market logics, there are particular impacts on the seemingly intractable crisis of Indigenous education policy making. Entrenched discourses of deficit result in education policy continually being ‘done to’ communities, with little heed paid to the effects of such efforts on the learning opportunities available to young Indigenous learners, particularly those living in remote communities. This paper examines the contemporary network of policy levers that come to shape how literacy policy is framed for Indigenous Australians through narratives of failure and crisis. In doing so, we ask what learning is made (im)possible and what are some of the ‘flattening’ effects on literacy curriculum and pedagogy as a result? Further, this paper seeks to open up the conversation around what learning is possible when the policy landscape is unflattened, when policy is ‘done with’ communities, and when pedagogical practices are opened up, rather than closed down.