Newcastle Knights legend Ashley Gordon says he is "fearful" Saturday's referendum result reflects Australians' attitudes to Indigenous people.
Mr Gordon was among many First Nations people in the Hunter left reeling by low support for the Voice in the region and across Australia.
"We're obviously very divided," he said on Sunday.
"I think there's a mixed feeling towards Aboriginal people as well.
"That's what I'm obviously more concerned about. What are people's actual perceptions of Aboriginal people themselves? I don't know.
"I'm not saying people are racist, but are people ignorant, are they uneducated? Are people not wanting to be educated?
"It's a bit of a strange feeling, to be honest."
The chief executive of Newcastle's Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council, Kumarah Kelly, said many Indigenous people in the Hunter were disappointed after the nation and region rejected constitutional recognition.
"I know there's going to be a lot of disappointment in a lot of Aboriginal homes tonight," Ms Kelly said after the Yes campaign won only 40 per cent of the vote on Saturday.
The Yes vote in the seats of Hunter and Paterson was below 30 per cent.
Hunter-based Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council shared a NSW Aboriginal Land Council statement on Facebook denouncing the result and announcing a week of silence.
"That people who have only been on this continent for 235 years would refuse to recognise those whose home this land has been for 60,000 and more years is beyond reason," the statement said.
"It was never in the gift of these newcomers to refuse recognition to the true owners of Australia.
"The referendum was a chance for newcomers to show a long-refused grace and gratitude and to acknowledge that the brutal dispossession of our people underwrote their every advantage in this country."
The NSW land council said it would lower Aboriginal flags to half-mast this week to mourn the result.
The statement called on Australians to reflect on whether racism had played a role in the referendum result.
"The truth is we offered this recognition and it has been refused.
"We now know where we stand in this our own country."
Ms Kelly said the referendum had produced "a hell of a lot of racism, particularly on social media".
"I think a lot of it was because of the No campaign's complete fear-mongering.
"It was a misunderstanding or misinformation being fed, a fear of things that just weren't real.
"The No campaign was just that: it was a campaign and it was designed to win.
"I think that a lot of people let that fear and that ignorance win out."
A Worimi woman captured the mood of some when she wrote on Facebook: "Despite voting yes, I personally find a sense of relief in this outcome finally truth-telling about this RACIST AF country.
"My heart is with my elders, the people who in the '67 referendum were given a false sense of hope.
"A hope that we would be counted & that it would mean something. It never has. It's all superficial. You've proved that tonight."
Mr Gordon, the executive director of NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services, said the referendum was a missed opportunity to listen to Indigenous people.
"That's what I'm worried about. Life goes on, but I'll be very interested if governments change, because Mr Dutton has pitched the No vote.
"What are you going to do if you win government?
"I'm fearful that nothing changes."
Mr Gordon, the first player the Knights signed in 1987, said he could not understand how No campaigners could celebrate the result as if it were a victory.
"Are the No voters today saying, 'Oh great. They're not in the constitution. We're not recognising them'?" he said.
"I just don't know what people are celebrating today. I'm trying to get my head around it. Are you really going to be happy that an advisory committee didn't get set up?
"It became very political. They're celebrating more on a political nature rather than what the cause was all about."