Traditional owners are concerned the burial place of a Djiringanj Elder, with possible links to the story of The Man from Snow River, may be on land earmarked for development.
Many of my family members have died homeless despite the gazetting of the land in the 1880s.Ngarigo and Djiringanj Elder Aunty Ellen Mundy
Traditional head man Jack Hoskins, alongside Ngarigo head man Bobby "Old" Mundy, brought horses from the Snowy Mountains to one of the first Aboriginal reserves in NSW at Lake Cohen, now known as Blackfellows Lake, before the animals were shipped to Sydney from the Tathra Wharf.
Hoskins died in 1900, but where he body was buried still remains a mystery.
Family descendant and Ngarigo and Djiringanj Elder Aunty Ellen Mundy said she has searched for Hoskins' grave via online databases and cemeteries, with no luck.
"He's not in a white man's cemetery but in a traditional burial site. Possibly around the lake," she said.
"Reserves" were parcels of land not managed by the government or its officials, set aside for Indigenous people to live on relatively freely.
However many were later seen to be on valuable real estate, Ms Mundy said.
"They didn't walk off the land freely, it was gazetted to them and their family. It was a practice that happened throughout NSW," Ms Mundy said.
"Most reserves were gazetted to the head man of the family clan or family group. The same happened at Delegate.
"It is on our clan land, not just our custodial lands.
"We never ceded our rights, we never gave up our land. We were forced off it."
As the reserve covered the lake and surrounding areas, Ms Mundy said it's highly possible Hoskins is buried in the area earmarked for stage two of the Tathra River Estate.
As part of the development process, the company behind it recently advertised for anyone with knowledge of the land or with cultural connections to the land to come forward.
"It's where the Bega River flows, so there would have been traditional trading routes linking from there all through the Bega Valley," she said.
Ms Mundy said despite some of the newly subdivided blocks hitting the market at over half a million dollars, Djiringanj and Ngarigo people struggle to find affordable housing in the region.
"We're forced to live in social housing because we're poor and not able to buy our own home," she said.
"Housing is an issue, especially for single people.
"Many of my family members have died homeless despite the gazetting of the land in the 1880s."