One way to protect things you care about is to own them, I guess. American Indian tribes have pushed the federal government to protect many areas in the United States that have sacred meaning to tribes. Such cases have had mixed successes in protecting the areas and allowing Indian access and use. The Devil's Tower or Bear Butte in Wyoming and Natural Rainbow Arch in Arizona are two examples.
Recently, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, purchased the site of a sacred 150-foot tall rock and 62 acres around the Tamanowas Rock for $600,000. The Tribe will prohibit rock climbing on the rock.
Tribal oral histories regarding the rocks include them being used as outlooks for hunting mastodons and being an anchoring point during floods, or possibly tsunamis.
Read more in News From Indian Country, Jan. 2013, at 11.