This article is based on findings from a PhD study that explored the development communication processes between partners in the establishment of !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. Framed within the critical indigenous qualitative research approach, it reveals the importance of local narratives in the coproduction of knowledge that may guide development initiatives. The ǂKhomani and Mier, as community partners, are San and Khoe descendants with a rich storytelling tradition, and so many interviews turned into what I term ‘development narratives’. The study also adopted participant observation as a data-collection method and was guided by constructivist grounded theory. In presenting quotations from the ǂKhomani and Mier's development experiences it illustrates the way in which researchers as ‘collectors of quotations’ can create a polysemic narrative that mobilises individual narratives and in so doing offers a space for local partner agency to be acknowledged. The ‘development narratives’ presented in the article foreground the fluidity of identity revealed in the integration of San, Khoe and Nama spirituality and Western Christianity, the connection to ancestral land, everyday life and power relation practices expressed via animalistic motifs, reconciliation, and, briefly, the value of participation as empowerment.